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  • Tamara Sheward

    TropicNow writer

    Email Tamara Sheward

    Cairns cops put the collar on property crime sprees

    Two offenders, 20 suburbs, almost 100 charges. Those are the staggering figures from the Cairns Property Crime Squad’s biggest busts for this week alone.

    Saturday saw the arrest of a 17-year-old Earlville man for a total of 55 property related offences charges, while a 17-year-old Yarrabah man was nabbed yesterday and charged with 42 offences.

    Both of the accused were billed by police as “priority offenders”.

    Police had been actively seeking the Earlville man in connection with a large number of burglary and vehicle theft offences allegedly committed between May 13 and June 2 at Kewarra Beach, Trinity Beach, Redlynch, Manunda, Westcourt, Bungalow, Earlville, Woree, Bayview Heights, and Flying Fish Point.

    The man appeared in Cairns Magistrates Court on Monday, and was released on bail: he’s been ordered to reappear on June 27.

    In a separate arrest, the Yarrabah man – arrested yesterday at a Manunda caravan park – appeared in court this morning charged with 42 offences including burglary, unlawful use of a motor vehicle, stealing, attempted burglary and possession of stolen property.

    The charges relate to offences allegedly committed at Babinda, Gordonvale, Yarrabah, Edmonton, White Rock, Bayview Heights, Mooroobool, Manunda, Kanimbla, Edge Hill, Whitfield, Brinsmead and Kamerunga between mid-December and yesterday.

    So what does it take to pin down people accused of such a wide-ranging array of crimes over an area spanning almost 100km?

    “Even more police paperwork than they show you in the movies!” says Senior Constable Russ Parker of the Cairns District Crime Prevention Unit.

    “We identify what we call priority offenders, and a lot of work goes into catching them.

    “We work off spreadsheets of offences, and link them up.

    “Sometimes we get DNA or fingerprints, and often when we’re interviewing other offenders, certain names pop up.

    “Tracking these people down can be difficult, as many float between addresses and areas.”

    Snr-Const Parker said that while many offenders didn’t operate in gangs per se, they were often known to each other and operated within loose affiliations.

    CAIRNS CAR THEFT: “GET WITH THE PROGRAM!”

    And while police slog away behind the scenes, they’re calling on locals to do their bit in protecting themselves against thieves.

    As of this week, six vehicles have been stolen in Cairns, with thieves targeting Manoora, Edge Hill, Bayview Heights, Kanimbla, Whitfield and Smithfield. In several cases, entry was gained via unlocked homes and vehicles.

    In May, 69 cars were stolen from the region encompassing Gordonvale to the Northern Beaches.

    Snr-Const Parker recently told TropicNow that car theft in the far north was an opportunistic crime that could be heavily reduced if people took simple steps to reduce their chance of being targeted.

    “Lock your car, take your keys inside and hide them,” he said.

    “Don’t leave them on the kitchen bench or anywhere that can be seen from outside.

    “When thieves are going out, looking in windows with torches and they see keys sitting there, it’s an extra incentive for them to make their way inside.

    “If they don’t see yours, hopefully they just move on.

    “If there are keys lying around and people are snooping, they will find them, and they will take them.

    “In Cairns 30 or 40 years ago, we didn’t have to lock up,” he said.

    “But we do now: it’s 2017 and time to get with the program.”