Hundreds of young criminals breaking into cars and using drugs are causing a juvenile crime
Hundreds of young criminals breaking into cars and using drugs are causing a juvenile crime "epidemic” that Sunshine Coast's top cop says needs to be stemmed at home. Nicholas Falconer

Disturbing trends feeding youth crime 'epidemic' revealed

HUNDREDS of young criminals breaking into cars and using drugs are causing a juvenile crime "epidemic" that Sunshine Coast's top cop says needs to be stemmed at home.

Combating the trend has proved "disappointing" for district officer Darryl Johnson as juvenile property crime jumps 11 per cent in six months since January.

While the issue is not confined to the Coast, Superintendent Johnson said criminals as young as 10 years old were stealing cars and breaking into homes.

"It's a challenge for us right across the state," he said.

Last month, 422 male juvenile offences and 182 female juvenile offences were recorded on the Sunshine Coast in Queensland Police Service data.

These crimes jumped 11 per cent in a month, but were down 18 per cent since the start of the year.

Police Union's Ian Leavers says police cop the brunt of a failed system.
Police Union's Ian Leavers says police cop the brunt of a failed system. Blainey Woodham / Tweed Daily Ne

Police Union president Ian Leavers said police were left to shoulder the responsibility of the "epidemic" after a massive influx of juveniles spilled into the criminal justice system when age limits for juveniles rose.

"It is very frustrating for police officers to repeatedly arrest recidivist juvenile offenders who face no consequences for their actions," he said.

"Police resources could be better spent dealing with other issues and concerns within the community," he said.

Supt Johnson said combating the trend was a "real challenge" for police when residents failed to value their home and car security.

"Some (crimes) are obviously targeted but as a community we are making it a lot easier (for offenders)," he said.

"We continue to see people not taking that ownership themselves to lock-up."

Superintendent Darryl Johnson said combating youth crime was a challenge when residents continued to be relaxed with security.
Superintendent Darryl Johnson said combating youth crime was a challenge when residents continued to be relaxed with security. Patrick Woods

While it wasn't always the case, Supt Johnson said many young offenders, aged in their late teens, showed a disturbing connection to drugs.

"(Police are) seeing more younger offenders stealing vehicles and then driving those cars at some dangerous speeds," he said.

"It's also concerning with the use of dangerous drugs by some of our younger people which contributes to ongoing criminality."

Supt Johnson said part of the answer was cutting the root of the issue at home.

"Being respectful and responsible has to start at home, with role models, parents and everyone willing to help," he said.



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