Despite being born and raised in Mount Isa, local historian Kim-Maree Burton says she will consider leaving as the city grappled with an escalating youth crime problem.
- Police reinforcements are flown in to help deal with youth crime in Mount Isa
- 2022 was the rural Queensland city’s worst year for vehicle thefts
- Some residents say they are considering leaving the town due to youth crime
“I’ve been broken into six times … I’ve woken up with an intruder in my bed. I do not feel safe in my home. I don’t sleep,” she said.
As she packs up her house and looks to move to another part of the rural Queensland town, Ms Burton says she, and other residents she has spoken to, feel “completely alone”.
“It’s not fair,” she said.
“I am very sad to say that I have even considered leaving Mount Isa because of the crime.”
Poor statistics recorded
According to Queensland police data, 2022 was Mount Isa’s worst year for the unlawful use of motor vehicles, with 274 offences recorded — an increase from 205 in the previous year.
“In our area, the majority of these unlawful use of motor vehicle offences are related to vehicle thefts,” Mount Isa Police Department Detective Inspector Dave Barron said.
Over the 30 days to January 19, at least 29 vehicles were stolen — the equivalent of nearly one car per day for the month.
Police said about half of those cases had been solved, with about 14 matters still being investigated.
2022 also proved to be Mount Isa’s second-worst year for unlawful entry of property offences — such as houses and businesses — increasing from 817 offences to 1,048.
Police reinforcements arrive
Detective Inspector Barron said six police officers were dispatched from Townsville to help Mount Isa deal with its youth crime problem.
“Since December 19, we’ve charged 60 people with 100 offences arising out of a local operation focusing on youth crime,” he said.
“More youth than adults are committing this type of offending in our area.”
Detective Inspector Barron said about half of the stolen cars had keys left inside them, while the rest had resulted from burglary offences.
Residents ‘don’t feel safe’
Footage shared on social media shows cars being driven erratically around the rural city, including several instances of stolen vehicles colliding with other cars or rolling.
One car earlier this month was stolen with a child inside.
Lifelong resident Ron Pertovt, 63, said youth crime had been getting worse over recent years.
“It has escalated probably in the past five years, more so than any other period of Mount Isa’s history,” he said.
“I totally understand why many people I’ve spoken to don’t feel safe living in this town anymore.”
Ms Burton said she struggled to see any positive impact from the government and social services that operated in the town.
“There is nothing that is happening today in the judicial system or the QPS [Queensland Police Service] or the state government or local council that is working,” she said.
“We have about 21 government and non-government organisations [but] where are the outcomes?
“Because on the ground level, we can’t see it. We cannot see what is being done.”