Extra police deployed to tackle Mount Isa youth crime as 30 cars are stolen in one month

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.

“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.”

A woman in a red dress stares at camera
Mount Isa local Kim-Maree Burton says she relocated after several break-ins.(ABC North West Qld: Larissa Waterson)

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.

A graph of statistics showing a blue line rising sharply towards the end
Police recorded 274 unlawful use of a motor vehicle offences in Mount Isa during 2022.(Supplied: Queensland Police Service)

“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.

A police facade reading Mt Isa Police Headquarters
Mount Isa police in one month charged 60 people with 100 offences relating to youth crime.(ABC North West Queensland: Kelly Butterworth)

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.