'Hunted like game': nude beach creeps prompt calls for safety
THERE are calls for Byron Bay beachgoers to call in sexual harassment directly to police after a series of unofficial reports sexual predators are frequenting popular nudist beaches.
Residents took to the Byron Bay Community Board this week to share information about purported lurkers hiding in bushes, exposing themselves to women and children, and even approaching women in gangs, at Belongil, Tallows, Sunrise and Tyagarah areas.
On May 22, Harrison Edwards reported three recent "disturbing stories", including one in which a nude woman was approached by an older foreign man - also nude - who wouldn't leave her alone "until she got up and gave him a hug".
In another incident, a nude woman was sun-baking at Belongil when she discovered an "older man masturbating (also unclad) in the bushes" and a third, more explicit incident in which a nude man approached a nude woman with a condom on.
None of these incidents were reported to police, however police have today confirmed cases of alleged offensive behaviour and lewd conduct at "a beach area north of Byron Bay" have been received by police and are being investigated.
"I'm shocked that these female friends of mine have let things slip and am concerned that it may be a common occurrence on nude beaches and individuals are brushing it off as nothing," Mr Edwards said.
"I had no idea this kind of stuff was happening, but yet I'm not overly surprised, knowing what lonely sexually frustrated older men can be like."
Michelle Will said last weekend near Tea Tree Lakes, Tyagarah, a gang of nude men approached her.
"While I relaxed on the beach, against the dunes, I looked up to see men circling me - waking back and forth past me.
"Felt like I was being hunted to see if I was game."
Leonie Faram said the nudist section of Belongil beach had been known to locals for its lurkers for "over 20 years", with Lyn Sullivan adding the Belongil Creek area, near the back of a well-established resort, was the known hot spot.
"I have had a few encounters with .... and most disturbing when a naked men approach you, attempting conversation, and not going away when asked to," Ms Sullivan said.
"I've reported it to police who need you to call them on your mobile without delay so they can come down and grab them."
After not reporting similar incidents herself Reshina Puna called on victims to report incidents directly to local police on their mobile phones, at the time of the attack.
"No, they are not isolated occurrences, and yes, sexual predators as such may and can go further given the 'right' circumstances," she said.
"Better to nip them in the bud to try to keep our community safe for all."
Residents also called for Byron Shire Council to erect signs warning beachgoers of possible attacks and the phone number of the local police station.
"Call the police, they are, contrary to belief, usually very supportive. I did this a few years back at Tyagarah," one resident who cannot be named said.
"I called the cops with his number plate and the police charged him after I made a statement."
"Inquiries are being made into these reports," a police spokesperson said on Saturday.
Anyone with information is urged to contact Byron Bay police or Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000, or triple zero (000) in an emergency.