Alice Springs business owner’s distress after he was broken into 41 times during city’s youth crime wave – as the PM is urged to act and Peter Dutton says the situation is ‘a national disgrace’
- Alice Springs businessman describes 41 attacks on his home, business
- Darren Clark claimed violence and crime now ‘all day, all night’ in Alice
- He said the city’s CBD has become too dangerous to visit at night
- Escalation of violence includes youths swinging ‘axes and machetes’
- Town’s mayor asked for federal intervention as its crime wave worsens
- 2GB’s Ben Fordham said it was time for the Prime Minister to tour Alice
An Alice Springs businessman has explained how he was broken into 41 times during the outback capital’s terrifying ongoing crime wave – but he says a shocking escalation in violence means the city is now ‘totally out of control’.
Darren Clark, a former baker and cafe owner, has endured wave after wave of attacks on the three businesses he has run in Alice Springs.
Now he says ‘all day, all night’ violence in the town has escalated to a level that means no-one feels safe.
Darren Clark, a former baker and cafe owner, has endured wave after wave of attacks on the three businesses he has run in Alice Springs
The number of property offences including break-ins and car thefts per year in the town has increased from 4,360 in 2017 to 7,820 last year
Shocking property crime in Alice Springs is increasingly giving way to more violent crimes as youths and adults begin swinging axes and machetes as they go on their crime sprees
‘That [crime] includes I’ve had two vehicles stolen from my home, I’ve had two home invasions, one of my cafes broken into 20-odd times, I’ve had my shop ram-raided,’ he told 2GB.
‘I’ve had everything you can think of [happen], and I’m not alone. There are victims here everywhere. It is out of control.’
Alice Springs has seen a spike in especially property crimes – thefts, break-ins, property damage – but also assaults.
The number of property offences including break-ins and car thefts per year in the town has increased from 4,360 in 2017 to 7,820 last year.
As of January, 2023 the outback town’s only prison is stretched beyond capacity and police are forced to house convicted criminals in police stations.
The Alice Springs Correctional Centre, which has reached its capacity of 650 inmates, is being expanded to add another 80 beds by the end of 2023.
2GB host Ben Fordham took a harrowing call from an Alice Springs businessman, Darren Clark, who claimed the town is far worse than he’s ever seen it
Alice Springs Mayor Matt Paterson has pleaded for federal police or the ADF to ‘put boots on the ground’ as part of a commitment to help locals feel safe
Alice Springs has become known as Australia’s most dangerous town due to out-of-control property crimes
‘It’s very, very bad,’ Mr Clark told 2GB. ‘It’s so bad that people listening in Sydney, you wouldn’t believe what’s going on up here.’
Mr Clark told 2GB women and children are ‘scared everywhere in this town’ – but the increasingly common use of machetes and axes by roaming youths means that same fear is now felt by everyone.
‘If I come at you swinging an axe, what are you going to do? If you wake up in the middle of the night and someone is swinging an axe at you in your home, what do you do?
‘This is happening every night in this town and I’m not exaggerating. It’s out of control.
‘The crime goes all day and its goes all night.’
He claimed up to 300 intoxicated adults and youths now take over the centre of the town every night.
Last month the ABC reported cocky youth criminals were trying to coax police into chasing them as a kind of sport.
Some were driving ‘head first’ at police patrols in order to spark high-speed pursuits, while friends livestreamed the chases to Facebook pages.
On Wednesday it was confirmed Coles and BWS stores had decided to limit alcohol sales by removing one-litre bottle of spirits from shelves in the town.
On Sunday the town’s library was partly destroyed – with 20 of its windows smashed – after which police decided to lock a roaming 13-year-old boy, who was wielding a machete, inside a supermarket for the safety of all concerned.
Leader of the Northern Territory opposition, Lia Finocchiaro (pictured) said in a speech last month that Alice Springs businesses are closing with staff to afraid to go to work because of crime in the town
There are increasing calls for Prime Minister Anthony Albanese to visit Alice Springs to show that his government takes the town’s violent crime wave seriously
There were also claims a nurse was assaulted the same night after she left work.
Mr Clark claimed the next morning another boy was tapping on ‘women’s car windows at 7am with a machete’ in a local car park.
‘I get 120 to 150 messages a day about community safety.’
On Thursday Alice Springs mayor Matt Paterson called for the defence force, or federal police, to put ‘boots on the ground’ in Alice, but was apparently refused.
That led to Opposition leader Peter Dutton telling 9 News that the crisis in Alice Springs had become a ‘national disgrace’.
‘The mayor up there has called the Attorney-General, asking for additional federal police resources, and the Albanese Government has refused that,’ Mr Dutton said.
‘And I worry that we’re going to see tragedy in Alice Springs.’
Mr Paterson told the ABC all residents want is ‘to feel safe’.
‘Every night after dark at the moment, day and night to be honest, we are having kids terrorise residents of Alice Springs, adults drunk on the street, 24 hours a day.
‘All we ask for is people wanting to feel safe, I don’t think that is too much of an ask in the middle of the country in 2023…’
Leader of the Northern Territory opposition, Lia Finocchiaro said in a speech last month that Alice Springs businesses are closing with staff too afraid to go to work.
‘Behind the eye-watering crime statistics are families living in fear and business owners are being pushed to the brink.’
‘They are at breaking point because the financial, physical and emotional costs are just too much to bear.’
Youths are seen terrorizing the streets of Alice Springs as locals call for help to tackle the crime wave
As of January, 2023 the outback town’s only prison is stretched beyond capacity and police are forced to house convicted criminals in police stations
Mr Clark told 2GB ‘we needed the defence force a long time ago’.
‘It’s worse than chaos.’
2GB host Ben Fordham claimed his listeners want to see the Prime Minister tour Alice Springs so the government gets an understanding of how dangerous the town has become.
His fellow 2GB presenter Ray Hadley backed the call on Friday.
‘Get your arse into gear Prime Minister and get out there! Get out there and talk to the people on the ground and then maybe just then it’ll get through your brain.’
The Federal Attorney General Mark Dreyfus said in a statement that ‘the policing of Alice Springs is a matter for the Northern Territory government’.
NT Police Minister, Kate Worden told the ABC she did not want to see Alice Springs become ‘a police state’.
Alice Springs is the only Australian town in the 20 most crime-affected locations on earth, coming 17th according to surveys collected by Numbeo.
The other towns to make the top 100 were Rockhampton at 36th, Cairns at 69th, Darwin at 79th and Townsville at 96th.
In 2022 government statistics showed Alice Springs has triple the national average for recorded assaults, 2,556 per 100,000 people, compared to 790 for the whole of Australia.
Alice Spring’s rates of assault represented a 36 per cent jump on the previous year.