Child crimes force action

SPURRED by fears South Grafton's ongoing crime spree will eventually lead to a death, the community has banded together and begun to lay foundations for a solution.

At a public meeting on Friday evening, Camellia Cottage was fit to burst as residents spilled into the doorways of the hall to air their grievances and identify possible directions for the community's future.

Residents spoke of their fears to drive down certain roads or leave their houses unattended, in case they were broken into.

Rob Southcott said he and his wife had taken to sleeping in separate rooms to protect their property, after being broken into three times in recent months.

"I sleep out the front and she sleeps out the back, we're too scared not to," he said.

Other residents spoke of bricks and rocks being hurled repeatedly at their houses and car windscreens, items stolen and verbal threats. Camellia Cottage president Louise Blair said she had spoken to some of the parents of youths believed to be responsible for many of these incidents, who responded to her concerns with the answer that their children were "just being normal kids".

Some of the youths involved are reportedly as young as five-years-old.

After it was suggested parents were also providing false alibis, police representative Sergeant Patrick Swift re-emphasised the importance of reporting crimes and encouraged those who saw an illegal incident occurring to record footage on their phones for evidence.

Towards the end of the meeting, attendees helped coordinators Melissa Livermore and Danielle Lavis compile a substantial list of key figures and service providers who may be able to help combat the problem, including the Department of Housing, State and Federal Members, school principals, the Department of Family and Community Services and an Aboriginal liaison officer.

A second community meeting, which will be attended by as many of the identified service providers as possible, will be held at the South Grafton New School of Arts building on Wednesday from noon.

Renewed calls to start a local Neighbourhood Watch program also gained traction during the meeting, and may result in progress in coming weeks.

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