THE COMMUNITY of Nyora has been hit by a spate of vandalism incidents.
Concern among residents has been growing over recent weeks, as vandals have targeted various locations in and around the town centre, including the op shop – which was broken into and ransacked; the old pub – which had a large piece of crude graffiti sprayed onto its side wall; and the park gardens – which had flowering bulbs pulled out and left scattered on the ground.
There have also been multiple reports of thefts, and gates of rural properties being opened during the night to let animals such as horses escape, with the preparators going so far as to pick a lock according to one report.
One resident woke up on September 9 to discover his car, parked outside his parents’ residence near the town centre, had been ‘egged’ and its paintwork badly scratched, in a seemingly randomly attack that caused around $2000 worth of damage.
But the worst hit has been the Nyora Raceway, where it was discovered, around the same time in September, that vandals had smashed all the windows of a brand new building, causing $3000 worth of damage that was not covered by insurance.
Apart from the op shop break in, no one has been held responsible for any of the damage around the town, and residents are at a loss as to how to prevent future incidents.
Sylvia Casey, president of the Nyora Hall and op shop committees, has lived in Nyora for the past 20 years and said although there had been a number of vandalism incidents over that period, “there seems to be so much of it now”.
Ms Casey said the “childish” nature of the incidents suggested “bored kids” were the most likely perpetrators, but with a youth group already operating in the small town, she didn’t know what else the community could do to keep kids entertained and out of trouble.
“I don’t believe it’s just one group doing it. I think it’s different groups of kids getting together and getting up to mischief.
“And I don’t think they actually realise that it’s costing people all the time when they do this stuff.
“I don’t know the solution. I think parents should take more responsibility for what their kids are doing because they’re getting away with too much. Because there’s no repercussions, they think they’re invincible and can keep doing it,” she said.
Ms Casey said the op shop incident had been reported to police and the perpetrators, caught in the act on CCTV, had been “spoken to” but no further action was taken.
“We didn’t take it any further but maybe we should have. But you don’t know if you’re doing good or bad.
“I don’t believe in putting kids in jail but maybe they should have to work to pay back what they’ve done, instead of just getting a warning or a slap on the wrist.”
Ms Casey said the community was hoping things would “calm down and get back to normal” but if things got any worse, they would consider forming a Neighbourhood Watch group.
“We could have a town meeting to see who’s interested. But nothing’s been done at this stage,” she said.
Sergeant Matthew Simpson of Wonthaggi police said there were a number of simple things concerned Nyora residents could do to prevent their homes or businesses becoming the target of vandals.
“The most effective and basic would be sensor lights. If someone was thinking about doing something, sensor lights would be enough to make most people move on. Alarms and cameras, even ‘dummy’ cameras are also great deterrents,” he said.
Sgt Simpson said having a Neighbourhood Watch in Nyora “certainly wouldn’t hurt” but that it didn’t necessarily have to be a formal group.
“A Neighbourhood Watch is just an extension of being aware and working together as a community. Whether it’s in a structured way or not.”
He said one encounter with police would be enough to stop most young people from re-offending, and that residents shouldn’t hesitate to contact police if they witness unlawful behaviour.
“It depends on their age and background, but generally, if it happens early enough, you’ve got a better chance of stopping it in the future. It’s a tough one, but generally, the earlier the better.
“So, if people see unruly or unlawful behaviour, don’t be backwards about calling police.
“Even if we don’t catch them in the act, if they see a police car driving around, they’ll know there is a police presence in town and that will stick in their mind.”