Crime in Alice Springs continues to spiral out of control with at least 25 homes and businesses broken into between Friday and Monday morning, NT Police said, as they pledged to institute a 24/7 police presence in the Todd Mall and increase foot patrols around town.
Two teens and a 12-year-old are in custody, police said, while they are working to “identify and locate (other) offenders”.
Authorities said they received reports of a total of 25 unlawful entries on businesses and residential properties beginning 6am on Friday until 6am Monday, but more unreported crimes are likely.
NT police said 15 of these break-ins happened at business premises in the Alice Springs’ CBD, including in five businesses that have been repeatedly robbed.
They added that the offenders targeted cash and food but did not mention if grog was also one of the motives.
NT Police Acting Superintendent Alex Brennan said it was a “shocking weekend of crime for the community” even while crimes in Alice Springs have been spiraling in recent months.
“I feel for everyone who was a victim of this senseless type of behaviour, which impacts so many aspects of our community,” Supt Brennan said in a statement.
“As of today, the mobile police station will be placed in the Todd Mall providing a 24/7 police presence for that area, and additional foot patrols will be conducted in locations recently targeted by offenders.”
The latest crime spree has angered locals who were already at wits end, with many already saying the town is at its worst point in living memory.
Community Facebook group Action for Alice 2020 has been posting updates on the crimes surrounding Alice Springs which was flooded with posts of crime over the weekend.
One post involved a man mugged by six youths around 2:00am on Saturday near Bloomfield units where his wallet was stolen.
A woman was also reportedly mugged on Saturday after disembarking from a cab at her home. “[I] didn’t even get a chance to open my gate before three teenagers pounced on me & knocked me to the ground to steal my bag. This was around midnight in Traeger Avenue,” the post reads.
Also, on Saturday, another post stated: “92 Barrett Drive Units have been targeted by thieves once again last night, a friend’s car was also rifled through (she accidently left it unlocked).
“One of thieving grubs also entered the front of my property, but left quickly once he tripped the security lights. Earlier in the week another tenant further inside the complex had his work vehicle windows smashed & property stolen …”
Confucius Dumplings, a CBD business, was also broken into over two consecutive nights. CCTV footage shows two youths searching through the cash counter then proceeding to rifle through the kitchen area. They then opened the fridge, took bottles, and ran off. It was unclear if they were alcoholic beverages.
Supt Brennan meanwhile said police “understand the feeling of either coming home or waking up to learn you’ve been a victim of crime, and it’s a feeling that sits uneasy with all of us”.
“No one is immune to this type of offending,” he said.
Youths arrested; to be dealt with under the Youth Justice Act
NT Police said Strike Force Viper arrested a 13-year-old boy Monday morning for his alleged involvement in the unlawful entry of a beauty salon in the Todd Mall on Saturday night.
Two female youth, aged 12 and 14-years-old, were also apprehended at the scene of an unlawful entry of a business in the Todd Mall. They will be dealt with under the Youth Justice Act, police said.
Authorities said investigations on these crimes over the weekend are ongoing.
NT Police urge community members to secure their car keys, which appear to be the primary target of during the rash of home break-ins.
“Offenders clearly unlawfully entered nine properties targeting car keys. We cannot stress enough that securing and hiding cars keys actively prevents further offending,” Supt Brennan said.
“We also encourage people to keep reporting suspicious behaviour to police first. This information is integral in helping police identify trends and behaviour so we can act and put preventative crime measures in place.
“We will continue to engage with the other government and non-government agencies to identify at-risk and high-risk youth and refer them to the relevant agencies to prevent future offending.”
CLP Opposition small business spokeswoman Marie-Clare Boothby said small businesses across the NT are hurting from break and enters and blamed the Gunner Government for the crime problems.
“Small businesses across the Territory are now footing the bill for this government’s ‘soft on crime’ approach,” she said.
“The Gunner Labor Government has made it easier for alleged offenders to get bail and ignored desperate pleas from our overstretched police force for more staff and resources. Meanwhile, victims of crime are being completely forgotten by this government.”