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Time to admit growing Canberra has a crime problem and the thin blue line is stretched to the limit

Ian Bushnell 1 May 2018 31

The armed robbery of Lanyon Vikings Club on 2 October last year. (still from CCTV footage)

Yet another small supermarket has been held up at gunpoint, this time in North Lyneham on Friday. It adds to a growing catalogue of similar crimes, often involving a firearm, being committed across Canberra.
Service stations, suburban shops and community clubs all seem to be soft targets for desperate offenders and organised criminals.
Even my local post office/newsagent in Rivett became a crime scene late last year when a masked gunman menaced the manager and bashed him before making off with cash and firing a warning shot when followed.
Just down the road in Goodenia Street, Bobby Stuart Allan staggered to a front door for help after being attacked but died there on 17 December.
Throw in the violent feud between Outlaw Motorcycle Gangs that has seen people and properties shot up, homes and cars torched and bashings across the southern suburbs and you have a picture of Canberra very different to the glossy CBR utopia promoted to the rest of the country.
OK, it may not be Gotham City but a stretched ACT Policing could use a caped crusader or two, or at least a few more cops on the beat, in a city that seems to have rising types of crime along with its higher population.
Statistics from the ACT Policing 2016-17 annual report show an increasing tide of armed robberies and burglaries, and declining clean-up rates in those areas.
In 2016-17, there were 121 armed robberies and 112 other robberies for a total of 233, compared with 185 four years ago. There were 2,522 burglaries, up from 2271 in 2012-13.
If you commit an armed robbery, the odds seem increasingly in your favour that you will get away with it, with a clear-up rate of just 25.6 per cent.
Police do much better when it comes to assault, but violence is also on the rise with 2,941 assaults, including sexual, in 2016-17, up from 2,243 in 2012-13.
The Australian Federal Police Association says Canberra has seen the fastest population growth anywhere in Australia in the past five years and yet police numbers across the ACT have not increased.

It says the annual report is a wake-up call for the Government, accusing it of being asleep at the wheel about the increased demands on policing services.

“Our stations are grossly understaffed and I am genuinely concerned about what effect this shortage is having on my members’ safety and mental wellbeing,” a spokesperson says.

“The recent data in the ACT Policing Annual Report 2016-17 shows us in black and white that there have been significant increases in all assaults types and robberies. That means more people in the ACT in the past year, have been victims of kidnapping, robbery offences and assaults at home.

“It’s unacceptable, the public expect and deserve to feel safe when moving around our city.”

If policing numbers were not addressed immediately, the Association fears that the increases seen recently are just the tip of the iceberg.

ACT Policing has responded as best it can, creating a task force to deal with aggravated burglaries and Taskforce Nemesis to take on bikie violence. But despite bringing some offenders to court, the suburbs are still being terrorised by bandits with guns, as well seeing as some daring robberies such as the Casey Market Town ram raid in which the culprits made off with an ATM. 

The clubs in particular have been targeted, with the two armed men forcing their way into the Mawson Club on Christmas Eve, threatening the manager and security guard and fleeing with cash. In October the Lanyon Vikings Club was robbed at gunpoint for the second time in four months while in September the Raiders Club Belconnen was hit.

The Raiders Club Weston, which had already been a victim of a similar heist to the Mawson Club in May last year, only avoided another robbery in December when the staff sealed the glass doors. The would-be bandit left but not before firing a shot into the doors.

And in Fyshwick on 30 December, two men attempted to steal a safe through a window at the Dominos pizza store, before escaping in a stolen van and ramming police cars in their getaway.

No doubt about it – there are some serious villains at large.

And while the anti-terror budget seems to be unlimited, the people of Canberra might well ask, what about keeping our suburbs safe from crime that is actually happening and on the rise?

More active police muscle, as opposed to desk-bound officers, would be a good start, as well as helping the desperate and the losers in Canberra’s success story.

Do you think Canberra has a growing crime problem? Will more police help? Is security too lax in our clubs? Share your thoughts by commenting below.

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31 Responses to Time to admit growing Canberra has a crime problem and the thin blue line is stretched to the limit
James Hodgson James Hodgson 8:53 pm 23 Jan 18

and this is the reason the junky scum next door can keep dealing drugs, its happening right now, but nothing gets done if its reported

Robert Warn Robert Warn 12:45 pm 13 Jan 18

Yes. More police policing crime.

Julia Bocking Julia Bocking 7:49 am 13 Jan 18

there are other solutions than more police officers

David Murn David Murn 5:19 am 12 Jan 18

Isn't there some sort of computer camera they can use to stop crime.. just like the red light cameras stopped traffic accidents?

Werd Harrington Werd Harrington 1:46 pm 11 Jan 18

Less traffic cops and more real cops

Garry John Dyson Garry John Dyson 8:24 am 11 Jan 18

Stop paying politicians pensions then you might be able to afford more police.

Jeff Gadd Jeff Gadd 9:12 pm 10 Jan 18

The Police are doing a great job apprehending criminals however the punishments do not fit the crimes. Crims laugh all the way to the 5 star resort AMC masquerading as a prison. Past time to rethink punishment and methods of incarceration.

Joanne Clark Joanne Clark 8:16 pm 10 Jan 18

Put the police out on the streets, remove them from the office. Engage trained civilian staff to do paperwork, man the station. Make policing visible again.

    Clare Louise Clare Louise 9:13 pm 10 Jan 18

    The problem is numbers. There is plenty of volunteer unsworn staff but at the end of the day tgey just need more cops.

    Steve Ulrich Steve Ulrich 9:29 am 13 Jan 18

    Clare Vidler I would suggest less response squads and more patrol squads would be a demonstrated path first, before asking for more funding.

Jason Watts Jason Watts 7:39 pm 10 Jan 18

Refocus police attention towards crime prevention over revenue raising and you have a credible solution.

Harley Ward Harley Ward 7:25 pm 10 Jan 18

People seem to think this place was fine before social media. Its aways been a problem just not advertised.

Harley Josh Harley Josh 7:11 pm 10 Jan 18

Meth.... says it all

Tracy Gorman Tracy Gorman 6:43 pm 10 Jan 18

Of course Canberra has a problem.. you only have to look at the amount of burnt out stolen cars all over the place. You only need to look at the various Canberra pages on Facebook to see how many cars, trailers, bikes, tools.. anything they can get their hands on.. are stolen. The amount of violent attacks.. the list goes on.

This isn’t the Canberra I grew up in. Society has changed that.

Wade Bermingham Wade Bermingham 6:12 pm 10 Jan 18

or a community focused bikie gang nothing like having your legs broken by 30 large men with baseball bats to make you rethink robbing the local drinking establishment

Trace Hawker Trace Hawker 6:09 pm 10 Jan 18

What I hate is the police do their job and catch the perpetrators, then the courts give them a slap on the wrist.

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