A ROCKHAMPTON business has come up with a new way to combat underage thieves, as the city's escalating youth crime problems hit national television on Tuesday night.
The CCTV footage, screened on A Current Affair, showed what Tobacco Station manager Kylie Ramsay fears most.
Eleven teenagers can be clearly seen breaking into the Post Office Hotel bottle shop in Musgrave St and methodically stealing $2500 worth of alcohol, all within 40 seconds.
Ms Ramsay hasn't experienced a break-and-enter, but has seen many young thieves steal products in the blink of an eye from the East St mall business she has managed for the past year.
At the suggestion of police she created a "Wall of Shame" of photos of Tobacco Station thieves, clearly visible behind their counter.
Now she plans to publish a book with photos of offenders, including youths, caught stealing on camera from all East St mall businesses.
Ms Ramsay said she had already received support for the idea from the Crazy Clark's store next door, and was encouraging other local shops to band together too.
She said there was at least one theft from Tobacco Station each week, and half of those were by teenagers.
Ms Ramsay conceived the idea of a book with the photos after she reported to police a teenage thief in school uniform who stole four items recently. "Police said I was better off going through the school," she said.
"I went through the principal and the mother to get to the kid."
The student yesterday returned some of the items he stole as a birthday present for a friend and paid for the others. "He apologized for what he did," Ms Ramsay said.
"The school took action and suspended him."
Ms Ramsay suggested a greater police presence walking along the East St mall during weekdays would also help prevent thieves.
Meanwhile, Senior Constable Bob Newton yesterday said police hoped to catch the majority of the offenders involved in the Post Office Hotel burglary by the end of the week.
Seven teens have been charged, aged between 13 and 17, and the 17-year-old was sentenced to jail.
Snr Const Newton said the majority of the 17 burglaries within the past two years at the hotel had been solved.