Hitting back at vandals
AFTER six smashed windows and three break-in attempts, no one would blame you for shutting up shop and leaving town.
But that is not the way Hervey Bay restaurateur Joep Dekker wants to play it.
Instead of running in the opposite direction, he wants to step up his security to try to catch the pesky vandals in the act next time they want to mess with his premises.
"It's just the idea that people want to do damage."
"It's frustrating," said Mr Dekker, proprietor of Torquay's Wild Lotus restaurant.
Several windows at the popular eatery were destroyed last weekend.
Mr Dekker's insurance has gone up to $800 a year and his excess $250, but to him it is about more than just the money.
"It's a nuisance," the frustrated businessman said.
"Our windows come from the Sunshine Coast so sometimes they are boarded up for days.
"It just takes the pleasure out of it for the people who are dining."
Wild Lotus will soon be fitted out with CCTV cameras, as part of a security upgrade Mr Dekker recently received a quote for.
"It's not cheap but I'd just like to catch them once," he said.
"Three years ago I never imagined I would be buying infrared cameras just to catch somebody."
But it could be worse.
While it is six times in three years for him, it could be six times in six months for other businesses.
Like Pialba surf shop, Rush, a store that has been relentlessly targeted by thieves and vandals since last year. Skate shop Rock Off is also a regular victim.
"I have so much respect for them," Mr Dekker said of Rock Off owners Dan and Mandy Maurer, who still help organise events such as skate competitions for the local youth, despite taking such a battering from teenage crims.
"It takes a lot of willpower to keep going," he said.
Mr Dekker believes part of the problem is that young people have no boundaries.
He has had kids tossing eggs and ice cream at his establishment, and even brazen groups who would pinch items from his outdoor tables, in the face of shocked diners.
"Alcohol was a problem," Mr Dekker said.
"They'd come past and take people's beers, just off the table while they were eating.
"They'd run away with the chairs, so in the middle of service on a Saturday night I had the waitresses saying to me 'Our chair is running down the street'.
"The result? No more outside dining, so it is the customers that lose out."