‘My children don’t feel safe’: Family traumatised after thieves ransack home, steal car


Updated

November 17, 2017 08:59:45

A far north Queensland mother is calling for action to stop young criminals after thieves ransacked her family’s home, stole their car and used it on a 12-hour crime spree.

The mother no longer feels safe in her own home after the traumatising robbery, and said her children did not sleep in their own beds for days after the incident.

“There wasn’t a drawer they hadn’t gone through. Even my daughter’s sport shirt and her Year 7 graduation pen had been taken. They left nothing,” said the woman, who remains anonymous on the advice of police.

“It felt like we had been totally violated.

“I then went outside to see they had stolen [the] car that was parked out front.”

With tears in her eyes, the mother assessed the damage done to the car, which police recovered after using tyre spikes to stop the offenders.

“That was his pride and joy. It was polished and immaculate … they’ve been on a rampage,” she said.

Authorities believe the crimes were committed by a group of teenagers.

Offenders ‘have no idea of impact’

The woman said, as a parent, it was shocking to hear the alleged offenders were just children.

“When you see some of the stuff that was stolen, like a scooter, you realise they were kids,” she said.

“I don’t think these kids have any idea of the impact [their actions] have.

“Would they like someone to come into their home and take their personal things that can never be replaced?

“Do they feel safe in their homes? I used to. I now don’t and neither do my children. I don’t know if we’ll ever fully recover.”

Young criminals a key election issue

The incident is not out of the ordinary in far north Queensland.

An 11-year-old girl was recently charged with almost 20 serious offences including attempted burglary.

The LNP has pledged two new youth detention centres — one in the Lockyer Valley in south-east Queensland and another in the northern part of the state.

In addition, Opposition Leader Tim Nicholls has proposed a 10pm curfew for children under 16 in Townsville.

Mr Nicholls also committed to holding parents of young offenders in Townsville accountable by stopping welfare payments when their children were in youth detention.

Meanwhile, Labor has increased the number of police in north Queensland to tackle the issue, with the Premier saying a holistic approach was required.

Indigenous community groups in Cairns have called for more funding and support to tackle the issue themselves.

They say the money being pledged for law and order would be better spent on community programs.

Research supports community-focused approach

Senior researcher Fiona Allison, from James Cook University in Cairns, agreed.

She said evidence suggested justice reinvestment, a concept which originated in the United States, was the most cost-effective way to curb youth crime in Australia.

“The idea of justice reinvestment is pulling money out of correctional budgets and putting it into local communities to resource the ideas that [they] have that are likely to reduce offending and incarceration,” she said.

“Over recent decades we’ve been spending more on locking people up and we’re not making any difference in creating safer communities.

“There are a lot of positive initiatives that Indigenous people in the community are [heading] and they’re often doing that unpaid.

“Ideally you would use [correctional] funds to support those initiatives we know are likely to make a difference.”

Ms Allison said the data showed the more disadvantaged a community was, the more prisoners it produced.

She said things that could make a difference in those communities included working with schools to increase student engagement, creating job opportunities, and addressing health issues in problem areas.

“Locking young people up is extremely expensive because of the particular needs [children] have. It equates to half a million dollars a year [per child],” she said.

“The idea [of justice reinvestment] is you gather at the table non-government stakeholders, government stakeholders, community members, those that have had experience with the justice system and families to gain insight,” she said.

“In most communities the best responses to criminal behaviour are found outside the justice system. There’s a lot of evidence to back that up.”

Topics:

law-crime-and-justice,

crime-prevention,

crime,

indigenous-aboriginal-and-torres-strait-islander,

indigenous-other-peoples,

government-and-politics,

elections,

cairns-4870

First posted

November 17, 2017 08:55:15



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