A DOZEN children were allegedly behind a spree of property crimes and car thefts in Mackay, forcing police to crack down on juvenile offenders.

Mackay District Detective Acting Inspector Mick Searle called the arrest and punishment of 10 to 12 major juvenile offenders last month a "breakthrough" for crime prevention.

"We did target a number of juvenile offenders who were committing a lot of offences,' he said.

"(Those) children have been put through the court and held in custody."

Insp Searle said the children would often break into people's homes, while the residents were inside, to steal their cars.

The operation to stop the young offenders had been 'a work in progress", Insp Searle said, with police tracking some of the children since November.

"Prolific" adult offenders, including a man whose alleged crime spree spanned an area from Mackay to Cairns, were also taken to custody, Insp Searle said.

The high profile arrests come as Queensland Police Service statistics reveal little change to the high crime rate in the Mackay region.

In March there were 1665 offences.

Mackay District Detective Acting Inspector Mick Searle. Photo: Zizi Averill
Mackay District Detective Acting Inspector Mick Searle. Photo: Zizi Averill

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Drug offences were up by nearly 20 per cent, which Insp Searle said would have a ripple effect into other areas of criminal activity.

"People who are involved in the drug crime industry, they need to get cash from elsewhere," he said.

Insp Searle said the most disappointing statistic was the steady assault rate, with 82 incidents reported last month.

"It's people getting full of grog and other substances and abusing people," he said.

Most assaults occurred away from public areas, Insp Searle said, which was a trend that was continuing into April as coronavirus shut down public venues.

Offenders appeared to be paying attention to health warnings, Insp Searle said, and staying at home.

Over the past week he said there had been a drop in crimes, particularly business break-ins.

"There's a much greater focus on people moving around at risky times of night," he said.

"If you're up to no good … there's every chance you'll be in contact with police."

"That would be a deterrent," he said.

As the stress of the pandemic sets in, both emotionally and financially, Insp Searle said police were anticipating a rise in domestic violence calls.

"At this point ...  there's been no rise. But it's something we're keeping a very close eye on," he said.



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