Ken Bate of Casino examines his son’s 1979 UC Torana that was stolen and vandalised when it was about to be registered so the boy could learn to drive in it.
Ken Bate of Casino examines his son’s 1979 UC Torana that was stolen and vandalised when it was about to be registered so the boy could learn to drive in it. Marc Stapelberg

I've had enough!

KEN BATE has had enough. The long-term Casino resident has been a victim of crime more than once and is now calling on the whole community to pull together to solve the town's crime problem.

Mr Bate wants to see local politicians, police, elders from the Aboriginal missions in Coraki and Tabulam and concerned residents all in one place to discuss the area's predicament.

The vision started after Mr Bate's present for his 16-year-old son - a 1979 UC Torana - was stolen and spat back out, bruised, battered and barely repairable.

It was a birthday present any boy would dream of and just begging to be restored.

Mr Bate said he sold $7,500 worth of shares to buy his son the car for his 16th birthday.

The father and son spent six months restoring the car, including installing a new gearbox, stereo, speakers, along with most other parts.

The Bates were waiting on the final part to arrive, a reversing light, before they could get it registered.

But on September 15, Mr Bate woke up to find the car missing.

Two days later, police found it smashed and ripped apart at the Jubullum Mission near Tabulam.

"They had stolen two stereo speakers, smashed the lights, taken to the boot with an axe... you name it they did it," he said.

"I was gutted when I saw it.

"My son and I had worked on it together. (My son) does automotive at school and he wanted a car that he could work on and restore."

Two weeks later Mr Bate woke up to find his Toyota Hilux work car missing from out the front of his house.

"They threw a rock to break the window and got in it but they couldn't break the steering lock," he said.

The thieves rolled it down the hill where they lost interest and left the car with its doors open.

Mr Bate has lived in Casino since 1974, when it used to be a "good little town."

"It used to be a safe place. You could walk around at night but now you can't even go out at night. You worry about your car when you leave it in the car park."

Mr Bate commended the police from Casino and Tabulam who helped him track down his car.

Now he wants to see a forum where people of all walks of life can come together to discuss Casino's crime.

"It would be a really, really good start," he said.


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