You can help solve these crimes
POLICE are still searching for thieves and vandals responsible for tens of thousands of dollars in damage and stolen goods over the past 12 months.
The culprits have held staff at gunpoint, stolen money, recklessly destroyed property and, in one case, even terrorised and kidnapped a woman aged in her 60s, leaving the community reeling from the brutal crimes.
Detective Sergeant Steve Clark, of the Richmond Local Area Command, appealed to residents for help, reminding members of the public that it was never too late to give evidence about a crime.
“Just because a matter is 12 months old doesn't mean the doors close on the investigation,” Det Sgt Clark said.
“Criminals can still be charged years after they have committed a crime if there is enough evidence.
“Police are only as good as the community in which they operate – it's all about community-based policing, and if we can lock someone up and stop them from committing further crimes, it benefits the community.”
Police are still investigating a number of serious crimes which have been committed in the region over the past three months:
- On August 20, a thief armed with a sharpened stake terrorised a 61-year-old woman before kidnapping her in a pre-dawn robbery at the Byron Beach Cafe at Clarks Beach.
- Two days later thieves drove a dark-coloured ute through the glass doors of the Byron West Sunrise Pharmacy about 2am and stole about $500 worth of pseudoephedrine-based cold and flu tablets.
- In July, the Lismore City Rugby Union Club was vandalised twice in two days. The culprits caused about $30,000 worth of damage and destroyed priceless memorabilia.
- Earlier that month a man armed with a firearm threatened staff and customers at the Southern Cross Credit Union in Casino, escaping on foot with an undisclosed amount of money.
- In June thieves broke into the Ballina Hotel bottleshop for the third time in six months, causing $500 in damage and stealing $100 in spirits. A number of cars drove past when the incident happened, leaving licensee Cameron Nealer calling for the community to work together to tackle crime by reporting it to police.
- In December last year, two men staged a brazen armed robbery at Southern Cross Credit Union at Ballina Fair, taking off in a getaway car with several thousand dollars after shoving a pistol in an employee's face.
- And in September last year a man with a gun threatened staff and customers at the Lennox Head Pharmacy before stealing a small amount of cash and drugs.
While Det Sgt Clark said the Northern Rivers community was generally good at giving information to police and at co-operating with investigations, he urged anyone who had information about a crime but had not yet come forward to do so.
“It can be done confidentially,” he said.
Police have found a suspect for one crime, charging a man over an armed hold-up at the Lismore Workers Sports Club on July 28.
The thief got away with more than $18,400 cash.
Casino man James Allan Cook was arrested over the crime and will appear in Lismore Local Court on September 19.
Det Sgt Clark said break and enter cases often took a while to solve, largely because there were so many of them.
Those offences were also given a lower priority than violent or potentially violent crimes, such as armed robberies.
It could also take up to six months to get forensic results back from the central police laboratory in Sydney.
“If there is something like a triple murder in the city it can block the lab up for ages,” he said.
“A high percentage of our cases are solved because of direct community involvement.
“Our forensic information can only take us so far...information from the community can help us to narrow our search.”