An outback business owner, who was pelted by rocks and threatened during two carjacking attempts, says it is an alarming escalation in his community’s ongoing struggle against youth crime.
- Tony Lister says he had to flee two attempted carjackings in one night
- He says the aggressive nature of the attack is a worrying escalation in Halls Creek’s youth crime crisis
- The incident has prompted calls for nation’s leaders to visit the town “without fanfare”
It comes as the nation’s leaders focus on youth offending in Alice Springs.
Power contractor Tony Lister has called on Prime Minister Anthony Albanese and Opposition Leader Peter Dutton to also visit Halls Creek, in the Kimberley, but “without the fanfare”.
Mr Lister said he had just assessed a power pole fault in the town at 3am on January 12 when about a dozen teenagers surrounded his car.
He said he wound down the window to talk to one of the youths who then tried to reach through the window and steal his keys.
Mr Lister said the youth started yelling “let’s jack this n*****”, sending the rest of the group into a frenzy.
He said the teenagers tried to open the passenger door, while also climbing on his vehicle.
“Another who came in the passenger door said give us the keys you c***,” Mr Lister said.
He managed to drive away but the same group confronted him at his business depot hours later.
Mr Lister said they threatened to kill him if he did not give them the car keys and rocks were thrown at him as he fled into his “smoko” room.
Security vision provided to the ABC shows the group of young people then turned to his parked car and smashed the windows with rocks.
The ABC has also seen Mr Lister’s detailed written account of the incidents on January 12.
He said he wrote the account because he thought it would be important for business purposes and if police had further inquiries.
Carjacking an ‘escalation’
Mr Lister said the aggressive nature of the carjacking was even more concerning than the sort of offending he normally encountered.
“It’s an escalation on what we’re used to,” he said.
“The multiple break-ins at our depots, at our houses … we’ve never had aggression.
“We’ve had rocks thrown at us, but that seems to be the norm for everyone driving around.”
He said the youth crime in Halls Creek already had a huge impact on his business, causing safety concerns and high staff turnover.
“To keep our guys safe we’re basically not working at night unless it’s a high priority emergency,” he said.
“I’ve got one tradie who’s left because of the ongoing issues. And I’ve had another who wants to get out of the Kimberley.”
Call for nation’s leaders to visit
In the past few years the Kimberley has experienced record youth crime rates, prompting a $40-million wide-reaching response from the state government.
But it’s not the only outback area where young people are caught in an offending cycle — recent visits from the nation’s leaders have thrust Alice Springs into the national spotlight.
Mr Lister encouraged the Prime Minister and Opposition Leader to come to the Kimberley and to spend time in Halls Creek.
“Come without the fanfare,” he said.
“They turn up, but they don’t get out and see exactly what’s happening at the right times.
“It’s exactly the same problem in Halls Creek as what you’re seeing in Alice Springs, but after the carjacking, my biggest fear is what’s next?
‘Whatever we’re doing now, it’s not working. It’s just getting worse.”
While the crime statistics have not been published for the last quarter of 2022, the 2021-2022 financial year was a record for juvenile offending in the town.
Mr Lister said he reported the incident to Halls Creek police.
Police said they were investigating the incident.