Violent crime wave hits city

TWO violent home invasions, two armed muggings in broad daylight on busy streets, and a woman’s purse snatched.

The crime spree of the past two weeks is something the Member for Rockhampton, Robert Schwarten, has never experienced and he’s lived here all his life.

Mr Schwarten, who was first elected in 1989, yesterday said he believed most problems stemmed from drug abuse and it was getting worse.

He said a growing number of people in Rockhampton were becoming the victims of brazen attacks and admitted he didn’t have the answers to stop it.
 
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The most recent crimes were on Tuesday night when two men invaded a North Rockhampton home, wrestled the home owner and held a gun to an occupant about 10pm.

Five hours earlier, on Bolsover Street, a thug threatened to use a knife on a 20-year-old man if he didn’t hand over money.

The victim gave his attacker $5. Police later charged a man over the incident.

Rockhampton Inspector Darren Somerville yesterday said the majority of these crimes were being solved and most weren’t believed to be linked.

Earlier this year, Mr Schwarten walked into a chemist on Bolsover Street only minutes after it had been held up by a man with a knife.

Mr Schwarten said it was the first time in his life he’d come so close to such a brazen crime.
The local MP said he believed most of the problems stemmed from drug abuse.

“I know people are concerned. I saw how upset they were and that made me very angry.

“It’s just outrageous.”

Mr Schwarten said he didn’t have a solution to the crime and said nobody would have an answer until they understood why people were behaving so callously.

“The behaviour of people is changing. You just have to see what’s happening outside nightclubs and incidents like that.

“You’ve always had a bit of drunken violence. But the level of violence that people are now applying is extraordinary.”

Mr Schwarten said violent crimes in Rockhampton were nowhere near the rate in other parts of Australia but said in a community our size it left him alarmed.

“Recently we had a siege in a house where police were forced to shoot somebody.
“I don’t have the solution to it.”

Mr Schwarten said police were doing “a great job” and said there was a reasonable number of officers to tackle the crime in the city.

But he said short of stationing a police officer on every corner there wasn’t a lot more they could do.
He said the level of crime was a community concern.

“Wherever I go I don’t live in fear but I’ve never been mugged or robbed,” Mr Schwarten said.

The high “clean-up rate” in Rockhampton and some of the toughest laws in the country weren’t enough to deter criminals, Mr Schwarten said.

“We’ve got an inherent problem and I think it’s drugs in our community; a sub-culture that none of us properly understands.”

A Bolsover Street businessman, who wanted to remain anonymous, told The Morning Bulletin he feared for people who couldn’t defend themselves against thugs.

“I think the workers in the region just accept this as an everyday part of life ... but the reality is that it should not be tolerated in any shape or form.”

He said people should feel safe on any street, especially at 5pm. You can report a crime. Phone Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.


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