Teens blamed for spate of Casino burglaries
By HELEN JACK
CASINO man Bill Oaten is frustrated over how to stop a thief who has targeted his store twice in two weeks.
Also targeted was the Surf Shop in the Kwong Sing Arcade in Barker Street.
Arcade owner Hilton Fatt said he was confident in his opinion that the thieves were under 16.
"In Casino they congregate in gangs of up to 20 at the all-night service station playing football in the street it's mayhem," he said.
"It is happening in towns all over NSW.
"I'm not saying everyone in these groups is bad, but it only takes one or two people to influence the others."
The thief began his campaign at 2am on January 7 when, armed with an iron bar, he smashed his way into Mr Oaten's store through a glass door.
He then worked fast to shatter a glass cabinet housing 10 ipods.
With the security alarm blaring he snatched up the ipods, but dropped three during his escape.
The following week, at 4.30am on January 14, he did the same thing.
Targeting Oaten's, he again smashed his way into the store through a glass window, this time with a chunk of concrete.
However, makeshift repairs to the glass cabinet proved too strong for the thief to break, so this time he left empty-handed.
Earlier that evening, the surf shop was also broken into with thieves breaking a lock on the arcade's rear entry and then smashing the shop's glass door.
Sgt Tom Kirk, of the Casino police, said the thieves knew what they wanted, taking only men's shirts and T-shirts sized between 14 and 16.
"They also pulled the glass door off a cabinet and took five wallets," he said.
Each incident is being investigated.
Surf Shop owner Tony Laarhoven said the thieves were caught on security cameras.
"But the thieves don't seem to care," he said.
"I had worked in the shop for 22 years before buying it in July last year, and I have been through many break-ins here. I don't let it affect me now."
Mr Oaten said the stolen ipods were worth $3000 and the damage to stock from broken glass was a similar amount.
"There is over $2000 worth of stock we cannot sell because of glass dust and fragments," he said.
"We will have to hand our insurer three DVD players and two cameras which were on display in the window that was shattered."
Mr Oaten said the thief was caught on the store's security cameras.
"He was the fastest robber I have ever seen," he said.
Mr Fatt said business owners and town residents were angry and frustrated. "The police should have powers to take these young people home if they are out late at night," he said.