Palmerston crime ‘out of control’ say city’s supermarket workers


October 05, 2019 08:46:26

Palmerston supermarket cashier Hester Kleinhaus says she was bashed on the head with an EFTPOS machine, leaving her hospitalised and later suffering from memory loss.

Key points:

  • Supermarket workers at frontline of crime issues in Territory city of Palmerston
  • Workers claim police have not been quick enough to respond to crime in the area
  • Acting Commissioner Michael Murphy said he “didn’t think” there was a “gang-related issue” in the suburbs, despite recent violence

The assault was one of more than 200 criminal acts which she said her supermarket has been hit with since the start of 2018.

“One of our customers came in and tried to buy something, and there was no money on his card, and he ripped the EFTPOS machine out and he hit me with it,” Ms Kleinhaus said.

She’s been left as a victim of what businesses have described as an ongoing run of criminality — much of it carried out by youths — across the Northern Territory satellite city of Palmerston.

Earlier this week, a 13-year-old boy was stabbed during a brawl of up to 10 youths in the town’s main square.

He remains in Royal Darwin Hospital.

Just a few suburbs across from Ms Kleinhaus’s incident, at Moulden Supermarket, staff say they’re dealing with acts of theft and threats of abuse daily.

“It’s pretty bad, they just come in and take what they want, there’s no discipline, they’ve got no respect for elders or anybody else but themselves,” said cashier Natasha Tomlin.

“People are scared. People are scared for their property and stuff.

“You want to come to your local shop and feel safe coming here, sometimes people don’t feel safe coming to the shop, because you’ve got these ratbags mouthing off, out of control.”

Not as frequently, but still often enough, staff at the Moulden shop say they have been victim to assaults and late-night break-in attempts.

For the supermarket, it’s proven cheaper to hire an extra staff member six days each week than the takings lost via theft.

Workers claim lack of police presence

Both Ms Kleinhaus and Ms Tomlin said an ongoing police presence in the region had been left wanting.

“The other night we had an incident where a bloke’s hit a lady, and we called the coppers twice, and they did not come,” Ms Kleinhaus said.

“Even the ambulance was outside waiting for them, and [the police] did not come out.”

Acting Police Commissioner Michael Murphy was in the satellite city on Friday pledging fresh methods — and more officers — would be employed to deal with the city’s crime.

“We need to do things smarter, we need to invest in the front end to make sure people aren’t affected by crime, people deserve to be safe in their community, people should be able to walk around freely without the fear of crime,” he said.

No ‘gang-related issue’ in area: Commissioner

On Thursday, NT Police announced a new multiagency anti-youth crime taskforce, Strike Force Orion, was being deployed to try to help tackle the youth crime issue.

Acting Commissioner Murphy said he “didn’t think” there was a “gang-related issue” in the suburbs, despite the recent violence.

He has pinpointed 21 youths, and their families, who police will focus on during a new operation to try to blot out youth crime in the area.

It marks the third of such youth crime taskforces established in the Top End in recent years.

Moulden supermarket owner Helen Harvey said she hoped to see some legitimate action take place before the situation deteriorated further.

“Something’s got to happen — otherwise it’ll be a bit of vigilantism,” Ms Harvey said.

“And I reckon that’s no good for anyone.”

Despite the impact on businesses, Acting Commissioner Murphy said youth crime rates had dropped slightly in the region during the past 12 months.










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