Bonalbo in fear of more crime
THERE is a siege mentality developing in Bonalbo, with at least one shopkeeper comparing it – after a recent crime spree – to the mean streets of Chicago.
By day it appears to be a typical sleepy country town, but by night residents are reporting police car chases, break-ins and violent anti-social behaviour.
Such is the heightened fear among the community that a meeting was held in the town on Wednesday night so residents and shopkeepers could vent their frustrations to politicians, police and members of the legal fraternity.
More than 100 residents attended the meeting, raising issues such as lack of adequate response from police when complaints were made, inability to contact local police stations, confusion regarding the appropriate reporting methods of any crime, the number of recent offences, leniency of punishment if an offender was taken before a court and the fear that local businesses would close if break-ins continued.
Detective Inspector Steve Clarke said only half a dozen cases had been officially reported to police since April 1.
It was clearly stated by all officials present that it was impossible to have a 24-hour, seven-day-a-week presence in the town.
The lively meeting broke up after about two hours but many residents stayed later sharing concerns and opinions.
Desperate times call for desperate measures and at Bonalbo's newsagency, the owners, George Vancsa and his wife Lidi, are putting up the shutters.
They are going to cover the front of their shop with a lockable steel grille after being broken into three times in three weeks.
Although the perpetrators had been caught on the shop's security camera and later apprehended, because they were under-age, they had been released and were back on the streets.
“I know that they are under-age and the law says they are not responsible for their actions but that is just bull****,” Mr Vansca said.
“We'd just like to be left alone after hours and for the courts to take some responsibility for this action.
“We can't and won't bag the police because they have done so much for us. They do the work and they don't get the back-up, that is pretty obvious.”