‘Out of control’: Crime wave sparks retail outrage
THE closure of a permanent police beat has sparked an "out-of-control" crime rate at Sunshine Plaza, Maroochydore MP Fiona Simpson says.
Ms Simpson said she had been in direct contact with "angry and frustrated" shopkeepers and retailers who told her they'd been victims of theft, verbal abuse, foul language and intimidation.
Using statistics from Queensland Police Service's online crime map, Ms Simpson said there had been 629 offences within the Plaza area in the past three months.
She said she was "outraged" at the closure of the police beat due to a lack of resources at a time when crime rates were spiralling.
"Shopkeepers say they have seen a spike in crime and a fall-off in the apprehension rates all progressing from the police beat closure," Ms Simpson said.
"I have the utmost respect for the police service but they need the resources. It's not a minor petty theft issue, it's violent crimes and we want staff and shoppers to be safe."
However, a police spokeswoman said the adjustments were made in January, not November, and they were made to resourcing at Maroochydore Police Station to realign service to demands within the whole division.
"This has occurred on a priority basis for a more efficient deployment and of policing resourcing," the spokeswoman said.
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The spokeswoman also argued the crime map Ms Simpson referred to incorporated the Safe Night Precinct, Maroochydore Police Station and Watchhouse, and surrounding areas and during the December/January periods which incorporate school holidays and increased tourism to the area.
"A similar increase was recorded for this period in 2019," the spokeswoman said.
Ms Simpson said she understood the Plaza to have issues with juveniles but the major concern was across all ages, including people travelling from outside the region.
"I am advised store managers are told to call Policelink instead but responses are blowing out to crimes by which time the offender has gone," she said.
"The lack of proper resources means criminals are literally getting away with it."
Sunshine Plaza general manager Michael Manwaring said the safety of its 10 million annual visitors was the number one priority and the centre worked closely with police.
"The Maroochydore Police Station neighbours the centre and the QPS has a strong presence at Sunshine Plaza. Additionally, security staff also regularly patrol the centre and are onsite 24 hours a day, seven days a week, year-round," Mr Manwaring said.