After a string of burglaries targeting e-scooter and bike retailers across the Territory, ACT Policing has reported an arrest, but it might be too little too late for Jack Southall, the owner of Canberra Electric Bikes in Phillip and Cookies Cycles in Franklin, who is pondering the future of his stores in Canberra.
According to police, at approximately 2:30 am this morning (4 March), a 34-year-old Kambah man was charged after police found him allegedly riding a stolen e-scooter.
He has been charged with three counts of aggravated burglary, three counts of theft, two counts of driving a motor vehicle without consent, taking a motor vehicle without consent, possessing stolen property, breaching parole and other driving offences.
ACT Policing revealed on Monday (28 February) that there had been eight burglaries of Canberra bike and e-scooter retailers since 31 January. On Wednesday (2 March), Region Media were advised by the owner of Fyshwick retailer ION DNA that they had been the victim of a further two burglaries.
Mr Southall owns eight bike shops, including Canberra Electric Bikes and Cookies Cycles.
“We have six shops in Sydney and two in Canberra, and we’ve never been broken into in a shop in Sydney. The shop we’ve got up in Franklin, which is a collaboration between me and David Cook, that’s the third time he’s been robbed and we’ve only been at that location for two months,” Mr Southall said.
“Getting robbed that many times, it makes you think, ‘is Canberra really worth it?'”
Canberra Electric Bikes lost approximately $40,000 worth of stock in one event. Mr Southall revealed he’s living in constant fear of it happening again.
“We have a lot of glass in our shop, so the next thing is probably going to be a brick through the window,” he said.
“At this point, I just don’t believe it’s going to stop until they’re busted.
“I’ve got my own cameras set up so that if anyone comes near the window, I get a text, but unfortunately, it means I’ve got to be up and alert in the middle of the night.”
He says the back-to-base security system they were using is a “waste of time now”.
“Once they’re in, they grab what they need and unless you have a back to base that can be there in five minutes, which is not going to happen, you’d have to have a patrol car and know as soon as they turn up,” Mr Southall said.
“In the video, they spent a good four to five minutes trying to get in, which is plenty of time for us to know someone was there.”
In the 24 hours following the burglary, ACT Policing reached out through a number of channels, but Mr Southall said it “seemed to move from one person to another”, and it was unclear to him who was managing the investigation. Eventually, two plainclothes detectives arrived at the store and watched CCTV footage.
President of the Australian Federal Police Association Alex Caruana said the lack of resources is taking a toll on ACT Police officers, particularly after the further stretching of resources caused by the recent anti-vaccine mandate protests.
“Our investigators and response teams must prioritise their duties according to the urgency and seriousness of crimes and threats,” Mr Caruana said.
“A commitment from the ACT Government and members of the Legislative Assembly to provide ACT Policing with extra resources would go a long way in ensuring that these types of crimes are prevented in the future.”
Police are still looking for the others involved in these incidents and the investigation is ongoing. Anyone with information that can assist police is urged to contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000, or via the Crime Stoppers ACT website. Quote 7043995. Information can be provided anonymously.