ESCALATING violence and the use of firearms in a spate of robberies in the region has alarmed Tweed police.
In the latest incident, a man used a firearm when he robbed a credit union at Murwillumbah on Monday.
It came a day after a Queensland Police officer was shot at Pacific Pines Tavern when he responded to a call about an armed robbery, and 10 days after two men were marched at gunpoint to a strongroom at Condong Bowls Club and locked in for 90 minutes.
Tweed Byron Commander Superintendent Stuart Wilkins said the number of robberies had grabbed the attention of police and the public.
“With the recent armed robberies there can be a perception that crime is on the rise, but that is just not the case,” Supt Wilkins said.
“If you look at the statistics we’ve had a decrease of about 30%, and crime is down in 18 of the 20 categories in the last 12 months.”
Supt Wilkins said there was less crime, but the recent robberies were concerning because of the level of violence, the weapons used and the targets.
“We are absolutely concerned about the use of firearms in robberies,” Supt Wilkins said.
“On the Gold Coast armed robbery was mostly on soft targets, but down here we are seeing robberies of financial institutions and hotels.
“A lot of the people who commit these armed robberies are desperate.
“It’s people who want money for drugs.”
A Salvation Army collector was stabbed and his collection tin stolen last week in the Tweed City Shopping Centre car park.
Salvation Army public relations director Patrick Walsh said crime was a social issue and he had seen how desperate it was for some people.
“We have definitely had an increase in people coming to us and for the Gold Coast it’s going to be a pretty tough year,” Mr Walsh said.
“It’s not just about the necessities. These people have no money, no job and nowhere to live.
“All these things are tied in and people are getting more desperate.
“It’s not going to get any easier for the next six to 12 months.”
Mr Walsh said the Salvation Army was forced to turn 20-25 people away every night because there was simply not the resources to help.
“Where do these people go? We don’t know,” he said.
Police were continuing to investigate the armed robberies in the region.
They were still searching for the man behind this week’s Murwillumbah robbery, who as of late yesterday had not been caught.
Police were hunting for the culprits behind the Condong incident and the man behind the Tweed Heads Salvo stabbing.
If you have any information that could assist police with their investigations, contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.
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