Fear of court penalties doesn't slow crims, shopkeeper says

Aussie Digger, owned by John Barnes, was one of a number of North Lismore businesses to be broken into in the last month.
Aussie Digger, owned by John Barnes, was one of a number of North Lismore businesses to be broken into in the last month. Cathy Adams

CITIZEN'S arrests and court appearances won't deter the thieves who have hit several North Lismore businesses over the past month, says John Barnes.

Aussie Digger Camping and Workwear and Lismore Showground have been hit by thieves during October, and the Lismore Kart Club has been broken into twice, most recently last weekend. Thieves have also broken into the doctors' surgery in Bridge St and stolen power tools from the Men's Shed at the showground.

Aussie Digger Camping and Workwear owner Mr Barnes said criminals struck over the week of the North Coast National, stealing tents, 17 chairs and air mattresses from a fenced-off display area when the business was closed.

"The police are calling it a break-and-enter because they had to scale the security fence to get in," he said.

"We had a stainless steel cable through all of the chairs that you (would) need a special tool to cut but they hacked through it somehow."

Mr Barnes said he had twice been hauled before the court on assault charges for performing "citizen's arrests" of shoplifters at his business.

"I don't know how many altercations I have been involved in here over the years; I have lost count, crime was rampant here."

Now he prefers to leave arrests to police, but said he had little confidence in the penalties imposed by the court being a deterrent to criminals.

"Every now and then we get a bunch of undesirables here and there are quite a few break-and-enters and then it dies down until another lot happen."

Two of the chairs were recovered by police from a Goonellabah residence, but the rest of Mr Barnes' stock remained missing.

Police confirmed the Lismore Kart Club and the Lismore Showground were both broken into last weekend.

Richmond Local Area Command Inspector Mick Dempsey said police were investigating the break-ins.

"Police believe the break-ins are related," he said.

Anyone with any information on the break-ins call Lismore police on 6626 0599 or Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.

Topics:  courts criminals small business theft

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