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11 August, 2020

Round table on crime amounts to nothing

Local businesses are claiming that youth crime is on the rise in Mareeba. 

By Phil Brandel

Local businesses are claiming that youth crime is on the rise in Mareeba.

Several local businesses have been broken into over the past few week including the Caltex petrol station on Byrnes Street, Mareeba Motorcycles and The Mareeba State High School.

The crime increase comes after member for Cook Cynthia Lui convened a round table meeting in March of this year, where Ms Lui invited a number of community groups to discuss tackling the growing problem of youth crime within the Mareeba Shire

Member for Cook Cynthia Lui and local community groups at the round table in March.

Some local businesses who wanted to remain anonymous for fear of reprisal told The Express that the round table meeting “came to nought” “that nothing had been done” and the “the meetings were all talk and no action.”

One resident who has felt the increase in youth crime is Helen Poyntz from Mareeba whose house and shed was broken into in the middle of the day while she was home.

Helen said she heard some strange noises from her back door, and found 2 children who were aged around 10 or 12 with two teenagers trying to gain access to her back door.

“When I spotted them trying to get into my back door I yelled like a banshee - get out of here.”

"This was about 3.30 in the afternoon, about half an hour later I heard another strange noise and this time I grabbed a large stick and yelled at them that I was calling the police.”

Helen later learnt that the offenders had stolen a metal bar and knife from her shed.

“I was very scared because I’m retired and I’m pretty much on my own during the day.”

“We later found out that they had a fishing knife and a metal bar that they had stolen from my back shed,

“If they had got into my house with the knife and the bar I hate to think what would’ve happened to me.”

Later on, police arrested one of the four intruders.

Another business that has been feeling the increase in juvenile crime is the Caltex Service station on Byrnes Street where theft from their shop was almost a daily occurrence.

Manager of the Caltex Jason said that his staff had been abused and threatened “It’s constant day in and day out thieving.”

“Normally it’s a bunch of teenagers and kids and we get called every name under the sun.” He said

“They throw rocks at the shop, they steal stuff and when we confront them they throw things at us, they have even thrown hot pies at me and my staff.

“They steal, they knock stock of the shelves, they throw things at us and even hit my staff.”

Jason has been the manager of the Caltex for nearly 18 months and said that youth crime was getting worse.

“Youth Justice come in and try to get the kids to apologise, but it doesn’t make any difference the same kids come back in and commit the crimes again.”

“It’s just non-stop, the police come in we give them video footage and they do their best but because they are so young their hands are tied.”

Jason and Panui at the Caltex on Byrnes Street have had hot pies and rocks thrown at them.

The Mareeba high school tuck shop was broken into on the night of August 1, with vandals damaging windows and doors and then throwing milk around the interior of the canteen.

Early estimates are that there was several thousand dollars’ worth of damage.

Don Langton from Mareeba motorcycles has been broken into about 5 or 6 times at his two properties and his truck was graffitied so bad that his insurance company decided to write the truck off.

“The truck was worth about 9,000 dollars but they spray painted it so bad, there was about 12,000 dollars damage.”

“They get a slap on the wrist and get let off.

“You don’ get restitution, you don’t get told when they go to court and you don’t get told what their punishment is.”

Mr Langton said he would like to see a curfew on the streets “people have had enough.”

As for the round table, “Cynthia Lui is useless, nothing has been done since that round table meeting.” He said

“She comes here to try and make a name for herself and then she goes away, she’s got no idea and she doesn’t want to know about it.”

Member for Cook Cynthia Lui was approached for comment but no reply was received.

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