March 17, 2018
Murgon residents have no chance of getting extra police until after the Commonwealth Games, Opposition Leader Deb Frecklington warned on local radio on Friday morning.
A spate of car thefts and home break-ins in the townships of Murgon and Cherbourg has had local residents expressing white hot anger on social media over recent weeks.
Some commenters have suggested youth offenders have been escaping with a “slap on the wrist” at Murgon Magistrates Court and quickly re-offending.
There have even been calls for vigilante action (see below) and for police dogs to be based in Murgon to catch young offenders who are fleet-of-foot.
A more positive suggestion has been a proposal to organise a meeting between police, Murgon citizens and Cherbourg Elders.
Many people have expressed fears the hooning will end up with someone getting killed, either an innocent bystander or one of the young thieves themselves.
Mrs Frecklington told Radio 4SB she had scheduled a second Mobile Office visit to Murgon on Friday because “unfortunately there’s just been so much need for it”.
“The Murgon community is really concerned about the increase in crime in that area and we are really keen to make sure that anyone that wants to talk to me had the ability to do so,” Mrs Frecklington said.
southburnett.com.au understands a group of Murgon residents wanting to speak about local youth crime was disappointed during Mrs Frecklington’s last Mobile Office visit when they turned up without an appointment, believing it was going to be an open forum.
Mrs Frecklington quickly scheduled a second visit to allow these people to have one-on-one discussions with her.
Both Murgon residents and Cherbourg Elders have expressed alarm about the recent crime wave.
Eight adults and children have been charged in recent days following the latest round of car thefts in Murgon, which included a mini-bus stolen from near Murgon State School which was trashed and then crashed into a fence in Cherbourg.
The latest charges follow the arrest earlier this year of 24 people – including 20 juveniles – after a series of break-ins and car thefts in the Murgon area over the December-January school holidays.
At the time, Officer-in-charge of Murgon Police, Senior Sergeant Lance Guteridge, said six vehicles had been stolen from Murgon and one from Brisbane.
He said the people allegedly involved in these incidents were aged between 11 and 19 and faced a total of 110 charges, including stealing, break and entering, unlawful use of a motor vehicle and evading police.
Late last year, a 54-camera security camera system was installed in Murgon at a cost of $369,000 to the Federal Government after repeated lobbying by the local business community.
southburnett.com.au has been told businesspeople now fear the latest round of youth crimes, occurring despite the CCTV system, could affect the local economy if widely publicised, while at the same time wanting “something to be done”.
Police have told southburnett.com.au the CCTV system has increased the intelligence gathering capability of local police, leading to arrests.
However, some businesspeople now suggest the cameras have simply displaced crime from the CBD into back streets.
Sources have also told southburnett.com.au that two police officers – due to be taken from the station for Commonwealth Games duty – would be allowed to stay because of the current problems, but there has been no official confirmation of this from Police Minister Mark Ryan in correspondence sighted by us.
However, Mr Ryan emphasised the police service was continuing to monitor police numbers in Murgon.
Mrs Frecklington told 4SB she had been pushing the Labor Government to do something about (the increasing crime) in Murgon but “unfortunately because of the Commonwealth Games we are being told that nothing will change by way of extra police or anything like that until after the Games”.
“We’ve just been highlighting that issue with the Labor Government. They really need to understand that Queensland doesn’t end at the border of Ipswich and there are people outside of the south-east corner that deserve to be listened to,” she said.
A spokesperson for Minister’s Ryan office said the Minister could not comment on police operational issues.
Some of the hundreds of comments from Murgon (and Cherbourg) residents on social media over the past couple of weeks (strong language warning):