Geraldton businesses hit back at ‘non-stop’ youth crime
Geraldton business owners have spoken out after a spike in vandalism and property damage caused by young children during the school holidays.
Dome Cafe owner Graham Sertorio said he was considering hiring security guards to protect his staff after a series of incidents involving youths who abused his employees and threw objects at them.
“As soon as the school holidays start, it’s non-stop,” he said.
“We had an incident just before Christmas — a couple of them (children) walked into the toilets, used the loo and then got their faeces … and wiped it all over the wall and we had to go and clean it,” he said.
A staff member from another local cafe took to social media recently, raising concerns about a group of children who stole items from the cafe and damaged store property in front of customers.
The staff member said police were contacted but failed to attend the incident at Two Foreshore, however Geraldton police have disputed this.
“Police were dispatched to the scene and attended a short time after the initial call and attempted to contact the complainants as the youths had decamped from the scene, however the complainant’s phone went unanswered,” Sergeant Marc Cuthbertson said.
Officer in charge at Geraldton Police station, Senior Sergeant Brad Bird said guardians needed to take responsibility for their children’s actions.
“I believe government services also need to support each other because at the moment it seems to be (that) police are the only ones who are responding to the behaviour of these young kids ... I put it back to ‘what are the parents doing? What are the guardians doing?” he said.
Mr Sertorio wants the City of Geraldton council to meet with concerned business owners to address the issue.
“We elect these councillors so they are representing the city — the police aren’t representing the city, so what are the councillors doing about it?” he said.
The administrator of Facebook page Geraldton Residents Demand Our Streets Back, Michelle McLean, said Geraldton residents were frustrated by ongoing youth crime.
“The loitering that constantly keeps occurring is disgusting and should be a major issue for the mayor and the MLA of Geraldton,” she said.
“No business owner or proprietor in Geraldton should feel bullied and attacked in such a manner that they feel threatened and scared, for themselves, their staff and their business,” she said.
Geraldton Mayor Shane Van Styn said he was confident a solution could be found.
“Youth crime is a community concern and we will continue to push the concerns of our community with the police and justice services, who are the responsible entities for law and order,” he said.
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