Shop owners sleep over to protect businesses

SHOP owners in the Red Hill Homemaker Centre, North Rock-hampton, have been forced to spend the night in their stores to protect their businesses after a recent wave of crime and vandalism.

Deli Cafe owner Paul Clark said his business had been broken into and robbed twice since it opened three weeks ago.

"It costs me about $3000 every time they hit me,'' he said.

His neighbour, Red Hill Newsagency owner Ashley Lynch, said while his business had been lucky to avoid a break-in, his windows have been pelted with rocks.

Both men attribute the attacks to a gang of youths which has started congregating at the open-plan shopping centre and along Yaamba Road at night.

"We come up at night and there is 40 or 50 of them loitering around.''

But the attacks have not been restricted to the Red Hill businesses: across the road the Cold Rock Ice Creamery was broken into on the night of January 1.

The culprits disabled the alarm and took off with a safe containing thousands of dollars.

"It would have taken at least four men to lift it,'' owner Damien Latchem said.

Lawrence's Holden manager John Farren said the car dealership, situated diagonally across from Red Hill, had been hit by vandals several times recently.

Rockhampton police Acting Inspector John Hamrey said police had been patrolling the area regularly and had used move-on powers to disperse the group.

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