THE owner of a North Rockhampton hotel, which was hit for the ninth time in three months yesterday, says gang crime is becoming an epidemic in the area.
The Post Office Hotel owner Andrew Ludlow fears if the situation is not addressed Musgrave St businesses could end up resembling makeshift prisons with security bars increasingly common features to keep bandits out.
Three people, two boys aged 14 and 15 and a woman, aged 18, were yesterday charged with entering premises and committing an indictable offence after allegedly breaking into the hotel shortly before 2am and stealing alcohol.
A Rockhampton police spokesman said someone had been charged in about half the hotel break-ins.
The issue of crime on Musgrave St has been headline news this year with Will Cordwell, the owner of the nearby Ascot Hotel, calling for tougher laws for magistrates to deal with repeat young offenders.
"Gang crime in North Rockhampton is becoming an epidemic," Mr Ludlow said in a statement yesterday.
"We have been the most recent target of a gang of youths operating with impunity in the streets of North Rockhampton."
He said youths had caused more than $20,000 damage.
"We have spent $30,000 upgrading our CCTV system and other security enhancements," Mr Ludlow said.
He said a hotel manager, working late, was injured when accosted by two gang members who were attempting to break in at the hotel last week.
"It is only a matter of time before a break-in results in the serious injury or death of a member of this community or one of these gang members," Mr Ludlow said.
"While the police have done an excellent job of catching these criminals, the Rockhampton Magistrates Court and Youth Justice Service are letting the community down by not taking a harder line against these gangs.
"It is the responsibility of the Queensland Government and particularly the local member Robert Schwarten to find a solution to this problem that doesn't include local businesses turning their venues into makeshift prisons."
Mr Schwarten yesterday agreed the youths, who were well-known to authorities, were causing havoc in that part of the city.
He said he was working to ensure government agencies had a coordinated approach to tackling the problem.
He said the youths came from dysfunctional families and had no respect for the law.
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