SUPT LYONS: No easy solution.
SUPT LYONS: No easy solution.

Coraki wont take any more

CORAKI residents will meet tonight to discuss strategies to combat the recent spate of car thefts in the town. Stuart Coffin, whose Toyota Hilux was stolen and torched last week, has had enough. He said it was time the authorities did something before vigilantes took justice into their own hands. About 20 cars have been stolen in Coraki since the beginning of July, with tow-truck drivers picking up 12 in August. Between two and six cars are believed to be still missing. Despite this, Mr Coffin said the police did not want to know about it, even when residents caught some offenders red-handed. "The police, we give them names. They do not want to know," he said. "Everyone in the bloody area is sick of it. That's why we're getting together." Mr Coffin said the offenders were laughing at society. "My car was intact when they got there with the tilt-tray. The tilt-tray was loading up one car and the fire brigade was putting out another, and they (the youths) have run over and set fire to mine, right in front of them," he said. "So what does that tell you about the law?" Mr Coffin said his Hilux was not insured and contained work tools, some of which were damaged. Cheque books containing records of his expenses and potential tax deductions were burnt. "I've had six cars stolen in the Northern Rivers now," he said. "This has been going on for years." Mr Coffin said some Coraki residents now chain their cars up at night, and have told friends not to visit them. Some of those complaining had suffered revenge attacks, with their house windows smashed. "How do we approach it?" he said. "We just don't know. But it's not going to go on. We're not going to do anything vigilante-wise, but there are people who will. It's been done before." Mr Coffin said the thefts were all the more upsetting considering the generosity he and others had shown over the years, including his gift of three beach fishing rods to a group of local youths. "You'd expect them to have a bit more respect filtering back," he said. Supt Bruce Lyons, head of Richmond Local Area Command, said 'a number of juveniles continue to be arrested' in relation to crimes committed in Coraki. He said young offenders were being cautioned and directed towards juvenile offenders conferencing, as was consistent with the Young Offenders Act. "I am aware that people feel the kids are thumbing their noses at police," Supt Lyons said. "I think the situation deserves some extra policing. That comes down to resources. But the problems, it's not just a matter of throwing extra police at it." Supt Lyons said police needed to liaise with the community and the families of the offenders. "There is no easy solution, but the answer is not just to lock every poor little bugger up," he said. "Often there is a problem in their family and the kids can't deal with that." The spate of car thefts comes hot on the heels of an outbreak of deliberately-lit fires on the common at Coraki. In the five weeks between July 1 and August 6 there were 29 fires on the common and four at the Box Ridge community. Members of the local fire crew met representatives of Richmond Valley Council and a NSW Fire Brigades Aboriginal Services officer to try to stop the arson attacks. Residents are hoping tonight's meeting will provide ideas to help reduce crime.



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