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23 November, 2021

Crime impacting our way of life

WELL-KNOWN Mareeba senior Joan Moore OAM no longer feels safe in her own home after a robbery left her without a car and extremely shaken.

By Robyn Holmes

Mareeba resident Joan Moore has been shattered over a break in to her home last week when thieves stole her car.

Two 13-year-olds boys have been charged in relation to the incident which occurred on Sunday around 1.30am while the 85-year-old slept in her Close Avenue home. 

“To think that someone was in my house while I was sleeping just scares me – I’m, glad I didn’t wake up and have to confront them,” Mrs Moore said. 

She said she had returned home at 7pm on Saturday evening and, as usual, locked her back and front screen doors and removed the keys and placed them on a table inside her lounge room. 

“I woke up when I heard a screech of tyres and I think now that was my car being driven away,” she said. 

“I got up at 6am on Sunday and looked outside to find there was no car.” 

The youths allegedly gained access to her pensioner cottage via her back door which they jimmied open. They then allegedly stole her car keys and took the vehicle which was involved in a hit and run traffic crash a short time later when the offender’s collided with a letterbox and garden bed at a Close Ave residence at around 1am. 

The stolen car was located abandoned and bogged at around 7.50am in the banks of the Barron River near the Herberton St bridge. The car was located in a damaged state with the front bumper missing. 

A 13-year-old boy was charged with six offences including stealing, burglary and unlawful use of a motor vehicle. Another 13-year-old boy was charged with eight offences including two counts each of attempted enter dwelling with intent, burglary and unlawful use of a motor vehicle. 

Emotionally shattered by the incident, Mrs Moore said she was now scared to be home on her own. 

“I went to a play last night and friends walked to my hire car and offered to follow me home because I do not feel safe,” she said. 

Mrs Moore is struggling to come to terms with the sudden passing of her daughter two months ago. 

“And now this, I’m shattered,” she said, thanking all the people who had brought her flowers, cakes, visited or phoned her to make sure she was okay. 

But she is determined to voice her frustration at the level of crime taking place in Mareeba. 

“Something has to be done, these kids have the run of the land – they ride their bikes around looking for opportunities and people who are older like me – we’re the ones in prison,” she said referring to having to lock herself inside her small home. 

She also wants signs denoting the area she lives in is for aged people removed. 

“I have asked for these signs to be taken down – they know that people who live here are old, sometimes tired so they can take advantage - we are just a target for them,” she said. 

“It’s more policing and we have to fix the justice system because they just get caught then come back to the streets again.”

Her thoughts were echoed in the chamber of Mareeba Shire Council last week as Cr Mary Graham put forward a motion that council insisting that Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk take urgent action on the issues of youth crime, anti-social behaviour and vandalism in Mareeba. 

It also called for the State to “immediately restore the Queensland Police contingent in Mareeba to full strength and ideally second additional staff”. 

Cr Graham said she was prompted to call for action on behalf of residents who were increasingly concerned about the level of crime and unacceptable behaviour. 

“Some elderly residents have told me they are worried about going up sections of our main street,” Cr Graham said. 

Cr Locky Benstead agreed, saying people felt intimidated by anti-social behaviour in public places. 

“We have done what we can as a council – the State needs to step up rather then put it off to an election cycle,” he said. 

Deputy Mayor Cr Kevin Davies agreed action had to be taken. “We’re not on our own here – it’s happening everywhere and obviously something is wrong with the system,” he said. 

Cr Toppin added that perhaps police numbers were depleted due to officers being seconded to other duties such as border control duties or other COVID-related tasks. 

Former head of the Northern Tablelands Neighbourhood Watch Denis Mc- Kinley is angry about what is happening on the streets of Mareeba and to its citizens and has called for a whole-of-community response if things are to be improved.

“Enough is enough – the crime and things we see happening on the street are affecting out town’s reputation, people are even being challenged as they get money out of the ATM, and we pride ourselves as a RV friendly town that encourages grey nomads but if this keeps happening, who will want to come here?” he said. 

“The justice system is not working – they go into jail and come out better skilled at criminal activities then when they went in.” 

The only way to change things was for the whole community to stand up and demand better policing and consequences that match the crimes. 

Denis is prepared to host a public meeting but wants the Chamber of Commerce, the council, state departments and citizens to turn up in numbers. 

Anyone interested in supporting such a move can contact Denis by emailing him at dj_mckinley@yahoo.com.au

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