Vigilantes offer crime ?solution
By JULIA ILES
TERRORISED Clarence Valley residents have had a gutful of vandalism, drunkenness and threatening behaviour.
This was the message of Thursday night's crime meeting at the Grafton Community and Function Centre.
To combat concurrent weekends of unrest, residents suggested ways to curb the delinquent behaviour.
"I've lived in Bourke and Kempsey, what we used to do there was cruise around in a bus with radios and mobile phones and the police would ring us if there was any trouble, and we would, pick them up, and take them home," Mark said, who has recently had a bomb thrown onto his property and his letterbox blown up.
"This solved the problem and when I walked down the street instead of saying 'get out of my way you f*****g so and so', they would say 'hi sir, how are you?'."
Others said they wanted to bypass police and 'serve up a little street justice'.
However, Coffs/Clarence Local Area Commander Superintendent Peter Barrie, who was at the meeting, warned against any type of vigilante behaviour.
"This type of behaviour will just make things worse, I know it's frustrating but vigilante actions are not the answer," he said.
Some suggested police confiscate vehicles, close the skate park or alternatively fence it, ban alcohol from parks and get parents involved.
People said they were considering leaving the Valley because of the problems.
"We are both disabled and we don't feel safe, and are on the verge of moving," one man said.
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Others claim to be prisoners in their own home.
"I am scared to be home alone on Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights," Grafton resident Melinda said.
"We make 20 calls to the police on the weekend and all they can do is move them on, then they just come back, we don't leave our house overnight because we are scared what will happen to it."
In a separate incident, seven cars which belonged to Grafton Base Hospital staff members were vandalised and most had their fuel caps broken, while a 30cm knife was found at the scene.
Two young males were seen running from the car park and police believe they were attempting to steal petrol.
A nurse, who wished to remain anonymous, said she no longer felt safe working at night and pleads for the hospital to have 24 hour in-house security.
"The place we park in now has poor lighting and it is out of the way. One poor sister forgot her swipe card and was stranded out there," she said. She was not the only hospital employee who felt that way.
"A lot of us think that more needs to be done. What if one of us had been in the car park when the vandalism happened? What if they had used the knife?," she said.
Superintendent Barrie promised to boost police numbers in Grafton but stressed the problem needed a range of strategies including education about the effects of drug and alcohol abuse.