Residents angry, fearful amid alleged youth crimes

Clyde St, Balclutha, resident Ashlee Marshall inspects a tyre on her family car, one of multiple...
Clyde St, Balclutha, resident Ashlee Marshall inspects a tyre on her family car, one of multiple vehicles whose tyres were deliberately punctured on Sunday night. PHOTO: RICHARD DAVISON
Balclutha residents say they are fed up with what they regard as police inaction over an alleged antisocial youth crime spree in the town.

Matters came to a head after tyres on vehicles in Clyde St were punctured on Sunday night, leading some of those affected to contact the Otago Daily Times.

However, victims of the alleged crimes — which include further vandalism, petty theft, antisocial behaviour and trespassing — say the spree began as early as February this year, and that the suspected teenage perpetrators are well known to police.

One of those victims is Clyde St mother-of-two Ashlee Marshall, whose two family cars had their tyres punctured on Sunday night.

Mrs Marshall said she only discovered the vandalism when she tried to take her 6-year-old daughter to school on Monday.

She said her initial reaction was anger, and she contacted police after walking her daughter to school.

"[Police] shrugged it off initially, but eventually came out and, when they were checking the two cars, another neighbour drove past and said he and about five others had also had their cars done."

She said the officer had told her police knew the likely perpetrators, but were unable to charge them due to their young age.

Mrs Marshall said she had had to use her daughter’s birthday money to pay for a tyre repair on one vehicle; the other remained unrepaired due to cost.

Others contacting the ODT said the group was responsible for further vandalism of property, stealing bicycles and harassing neighbours in the northern Balclutha suburb where they lived.

Northern Balclutha resident Shompoo Wilson said she had been harassed by people she believed were the same youths since February 2.

Mrs Wilson, who was born in Thailand and moved to Balclutha in 2016, said she had suffered repeated incidents of trespassing on her property, including verbal threats, objects thrown at her and racial abuse.

She said that although the police had responded to her concerns, they seemed unable to deter the youths from their continued behaviour.

"It’s got so I’m afraid to walk the dog now," she said.

"Police just need to take some proper action before they become bolder and it all gets out of hand. They could limit the size of groups gathering on the street, maybe."

She had been harassed by groups of up to nine young teenagers swearing and throwing objects at her during the past two months, she said.

"Either that, or their parents need to step up."

A police spokesman said they were taking the reports seriously, but were unable to provide details of any suspects.

"Over the last three nights there have been five reports of such damage, however, police believe many other incidents have not been reported," the spokesman said.

"One local tyre retailer has seen about 40 damaged tyres in recent days, with some vehicles sustaining punctures on all four tyres.

"Another retailer has repaired or replaced tyres on seven vehicles."

Clyde St CCTV footage could help identify possible suspects, the spokesman said.

"The community is urged to report any similar incidents, or any information that may assist the police investigation."

 - Police 105, Crimestoppers 0800555-111


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