Following a man being charged for an alleged rape earlier this month, a reported alleged stabbing in Picnic Bay last Sunday and several recent car thefts from the Nelly Bay Harbour car park, Constable Brendan Nugent of the Magnetic Island Police, underlined the changing nature of the community when he told Magnetic Times, "Overall crime has increased by between 250 and 300 percent in the last 15 years.
The alleged rape occurred after a party in Horseshoe Bay and according to Constable Nugent the man involved "Will go before the court on August 6 for a committal mention".
The alleged stabbing, which Constable Nugent described as "superficial", was reported to police by a Picnic Bay man who claimed that the assailant entered his unit last Sunday. "We have identified a suspect who is not co-operative" said Constable Nugent.
Three cars have been stolen from the Nelly Bay Harbour carpark and, in the case of the white station wagon pictured, crashed before being abandoned by the occupants.
Constable Nugent told Magnetic Times that there were no car theft suspects at this stage and noted that the Island mentality of poor security with property - such as leaving doors unlocked, keys in the car or windows down was inviting such crimes.
He considers the increase in overall crime as a reflection of the increase in population and development on the Island. "It is certainly not rampant or out of control but people are still very lax with precautions. The days of leaving property unsecured (without the likelihood of crime occurring) have come and gone"
Photo & story: George Hirst
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Crime climbs on Magnetic
We opened the door to a lot more than money when we allowed development to alter the "village" nature of our island. Crime finds it hard to flourish when everyone knows everyone, and their vehicles, and where they live. For better, or (in my opinion, at least) for worse, other aspects of mainland life have come over with all those development dollars. The Island, only a few short years ago, was a special place, visited by families who appreciated the chance of a brief respite from the unpleasantness of city life. Now it is in grave danger of becoming just like everywhere else - and sadly, that includes noise, greed, and crime. How long before we have to bolt and bar ourselves in our own homes against the monster we so blithely invited in?
Whilst I agree in theory with what Jill says about the nature of Maggie changing, I too am saddened by the decline in the security and sense of community we all enjoyed in the very recent past. I feel it only fair to offer up my opinion that many of the offenders in the opportunistic crimes of late have been from residents who are not new to the island and are not a product of the development that has been changing our beautiful and unique landscape. I can attest that from my position on Sooning Street, many times I have had to chase some of the kids (and at between 10 - 16 years old I do mean 'kids') from the front of my property at anywhere up to 3:00 am for being aggresive and troublesome. There seems to be an affinity for kicking signs, telephone boxes, parked cars and hurling their empty alcohol cans/bottles into peoples yards. I have been able to identify a few of these kids and I'm ashamed to admit that they are locals, what does trouble me is why their parents either don't know that they are out at this hour of the morning drinking or even worse that they don't care. I'm not so naive as to imply that locals are causing all of the trouble but I do think we need to step up and start cleaning up our own backyard before we begin casting stones elsewhere. Lets not allow ourselves to go down the path which divides people and leads to the problems plaguing other larger populations. We as a community have a responsibility to ourselves to get out and start meeting each other again so we can begin to keep an eye out for our neighbours and revive what is slowly being erroded from beneath us and regain the community spirit that we once held as proud testament to what living on Maggie was all about.
Not only have the island demographics changed dramatically over the years but so has the local policing approach. I recall throughout the 1970's the island policeman would meet most boats arriving from town on Friday afternoons and Saturdays and he would be standing at the top of the jetty stairs at both bays visible to alighting passengers and looking them in the eye as they came past him. Yer ..we had the sleeping bags and the long hair and he knew us all by sight. This didnt stop us having a great time and returning week after week but his presence at the jetty was a clear signal and message everybody received. At night time we soon learnt where we could and couldn't sleep and share that bottle of Bundy (or Southern Comfort) and where we could and couldn't make a noise. Island resident and vistor numbers have increased many fold since then and policing workload and priorities has had to change to meet the nature of current island crime. This is Magnetic Island 2007 so lock up, look around and be aware....and still watch where you share that bottle of Bundy orSouthern Comfort on Saturday nights !!
Three well-written letters, all making good points. There seems to be no dispute about, and indeed copious research to support, the fact that once anonymity increases in a community, anti-social behaviour also increases - and that it comes from alienated locals as well as from newcomers. While this increase in crime was to be, and was, expected, I for one, do not want to resign myself to living in a 'lock-down' community. Without becoming paranoid vigilantes, what can we do to re-establish in our now (sadly) 'developed' community, the virtually universal and now increasingly lamented values of our previous much-loved one?
So much despair, so little optimism. Hey, fellow boomers, get out a bit, it's perfectly OK outside the front fence. In the 1970s the ferry service carried around 240,000 passengers (ie. return trips) per year. Now it is at least 400,000. Those visitors are just ordinary people - names just like yours, kids just like yours, probably even voted (once) for John Howard just like you (ha!). We know about, and are part of, a significant demographic change whereby there are more single person households, more childless couples (young and old) and more empty, investment houses. Look down the street, the scene has changed before your very eyes. In fact, we changed it, not them. In the 1970s there was one cop, the station (and jail) was in the front yard of the residence and there were regular dances at the Lifesavers Club - particularly in Picnic Bay. Heaps of teenagers came from town for the night, slept on the beach and could expect to be kicked off the Island by the copper if they played up or got out of control. By endless different means we have changed all that. We (by and large) don't allow our children the freedom that we used to because we are concerned / paranoid / worried, whatever, that they will be exploited / ripped off / raped and pillaged, whatever, by deviates / monsters / religious freaks, whatever, that we fear are out there (in the self same streets where we live) waiting to pounce. They are not. We have (about) five cops now - who know many of us by name - although a few stay-at-homes are hard to get to know. We are changing our own behaviour because we think the world has changed. It hasn't. It's the same old world (or is that 'olde world') and if we don't stop reacting so negatively to it we will self-serve ourselves a future of Orwellian paranoia. Turn off the computer and get out.
to all stop wenging an do something about it, have some wear thay can have fun till 3 in the morning .if yous are so wared about them roming look my perant gave me some waer to have fun wy carnt we give them that. fun rase 4 the r.s.l maybe .i carnt halp to much work maybe like pitch in waer thay can have a grink. i can tall u now u carnt stop them but halp them let them have some wear , wear thay can have a grink. have a fislity 4 them .i bet u that thay will b up 4 that. wean i was young all i wont was to party to . at thest give it a go please.
Baaaaaahaaaahaaahaaa, haaaahaaahaa! Ummm, sounds like you might have parited a bit too hard in your "grinking daze". No, I don't think it's a good idea to provide a venue for underage drinking. Are you really serious? Not only is it illegal but totally irresponsible. Kids can find plenty to do in the daylight hours such as fishing, diving, the skate park, walking tracks, playing sport, hanging at the beach etc. etc.... Thanks for the chuckle though!