Moree is in the middle of a youth crime spree with authorities floundering to deal with it, with the latest incident the torching of $1.2million of road machinery on early Sunday just outside the town.
It followed the vandalisation of cars parked at Moree Hospital last week.
The town has also seen a number of suspicious fires in bins and near residences. It is believed that at least 25 homes a year are burnt in Moree.
The official figures from Moree Fire Service shows there have been 218 structure fires in Moree since January 2012, with 184 residential fires. It is not known how many houses actually burnt to the ground. In Birrawee place, in west Moree, there are only four homes left standing after more than 30 houses were burnt over several years. This author’s own old home, which had laid abandoned in recent years, near the railway crossing in Morton Street, was recently burnt to the ground.
Police say they are treating the incident of road machinery burning on Kooroogamma Road, as suspicious. Locals say they saw quadbike tracks near the scene.
The road machinery was parked by the side of the road. Two of them were hire roller vehicles and the other was a council mixer. The two rollers were valued at over $350,000 and the mixer at more than $450,000. Police said all three machines were write-offs.
The vehicles were seen alight at about 2.15am on Sunday, and were seen by a resident.
Detective inspector David Silversides, Barwon LAC crime manager, said detectives were pursuing leads on the machinery fire, which police were treating as suspicious.
Detective Silversides said investigations were also under way into damage to several vehicles parked at Moree Hospital. Police were reviewing CCTV vision of the alleged incidents.
He acknowledged there was “concern” at the level of anti-social behaviour in town and problems with youth crime.
“I urge all parents and carers to be aware of where their children are and to take responsibility for them,” he said. He said Police were working with various government departments to make sure youth anti-social behaviour was addressed and nipped in the bud before it grew. He said it was also important that people who knew of possible offenders, reported them to police.
He said there had also been a number of grass fires, in public bins and fires near houses in the last few months. He warned people of the dangers they posed to life by lighting fires near houses. There was a spike in youth crime in the warmer months of the year.
Many Moree residents sick of the youth crime have called for a community summit to address the crime spree. Some claim police are not doing enough on the streets to address the problems. A nightwatch service was set up by concerned residents earlier this year after another bout of vandalism and crime, with vehicles hit by thieves in the main street.
Volunteers recently worked together to remove graffiti from major landmarks in the town.