Jump in juvenile crime
Juvenile crime has spiked in Karratha during the holidays with police arresting 16 juveniles on a combined 39 charges in the past two weeks.
Karratha experienced 30 burglaries between Christmas and early January, double the usual number for this time of year, and about six more in the past week.
Senior Sergeant Paul Brown said police believed most of the recent burglaries had been committed by juveniles, a mix of locals and out-of-towners.
Police have arrested 16 boys aged 12 to 18 on burglary, trespassing and stealing charges over a number of the incidents.
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Sen. Sgt Brown believed other children as young as nine years old were also involved but were too young to be charged.
He said property offences usually increased in the school holidays but not so sharply, and cited a lack of parental supervision as one of the main issues.
“They just to need to know where their kids are at night-time,” he said.
City of Karratha Mayor Peter Long said the city offered activities for both primary and secondary school children at the Youth Shed and Leisureplex in Karratha, and The Base in Wickham in the holidays.
“While juvenile crime is a police matter, the city understands the important role youth activities have in engaging young people and giving them something to do,” he said.
He said the city had expanded its youth engagement activity program last year in response to community feedback.
Roebourne police officer-in-charge Senior Sergeant Gemma Hennigan said nearby Roebourne and Wickham had avoided a holiday spike in burglaries but noted it was largely a matter of luck and “the kids could have been here doing that as easily as in Karratha”.
She said they had tried to prevent juvenile offences with a targeted school holiday operation involving a high police presence at night-time, curfew checks and patrolling frequently targeted locations.
Sen. Sgt Brown said identifying and finding the alleged offenders had been resource intensive for officers but they were pleased to have such quick results.
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