A SERIES of reckless acts of vandalism and thefts from motor vehicles has emotions running hot in Macksville.
In the past three weeks police have received reports of thefts from cars parked in Wallace St and outside Autumn Lodge, the Macksville Hospital, the Chinese Restaurant, and from a prime mover at the Caltex.
On Monday, the Catholic Church was again targeted with rocks. And in April it was one of the historic lead-light windows at the Anglican Parish that copped it.
While the acts themselves are petty, the fear and uncertainty being stirred in the community is palpable, and the damages and insurance bills are steadily mounting.
There have been other incidences reported on a social media page, but local police have said they can’t be verified because no official reports have been made.
“We don’t obtain our information from the Neighbourhood Watch site. People need to report to us or we don’t know what’s happening,” Sgt Belinda Dalzell said.
When asked if the common public perception that local police were understaffed and not available after hours caused an issue in underreporting, Sgt Dalzell said they “do not work officer hours and are available to respond to call-outs at all times of the day and night”.
Just because the phone gets diverted, it doesn’t mean we’re not here. We’re probably out on patrol already. And when the phone is diverted, our response time is no different.
There is a general consensus among those posting on the Neighbourhood Watch Facebook page that a specific group of youths is responsible for the recent crime wave.
“Police are very concerned about inaccurate social media rhetoric which is often inflammatory and inaccurate,” Chief Inspector Guy Flaherty said, citing a number of occasions when locals have made accusations but not been prepared to provide a written statement.
“Police can't comment on current matters but are aware of a number of different groups of juveniles that may be involved.”
There have been calls on the page for local residents to initiate their own patrols, although police worry that tactic has the potential to see innocents targeted or to interfere with some of the rehabilitation work that has been occurring.
Some have suggested a community meeting with the relevant authorities so the actual situation in the town can be understood.
Chief Inspector Guy Flaherty has also advised that there are Community Safety Precinct Meetings which aim to reduce crime and the fear of crime throughout NSW.
At the moment these meetings are being held twice per year, or as needed, and concerned locals are welcome to attend. The last one was held in February.
Call 6598-5399 (Nambucca Heads Police Station) to enquire when the next one will be.