Crime spree unsettles southside suburb

Residents of Winthrop fear they’re living through a crime wave in their popular southern suburb.

In recent weeks, they say there’ve been many instances of break-ins, property theft and threatening behaviour – one local says it’s the worst it’s ever been.

This long-term householder, who wants to only be known as Miles, says residents are not used to this behaviour.

Miles says surrounding suburbs such as Kardinya and Melville have also been affected.

He says in recent times there has been at least one post a day about criminal offences on the Neighbourhood Watch page for Winthrop residents.

Miles’ home was broken into two weeks ago, and he caught the four men on security camera.

Miles thinks the recent crimes are related to the end of JobKeeper payments and people losing their jobs.

“The best thing you can do is, even for the peace of mind, just get some cameras,” he says.

Other residents have experienced property theft from their cars, with golf clubs and a credit card stolen.

City of Melville Neighbourhood Watch chairperson Atul Garg says one reason for increased crime rates could be offenders have more freedom in 2021 after last year’s COVID lockdown.

He says another reason could be residents not locking their houses and cars properly.

Mr Garg says the number of Neighbourhood Watch members has decreased over recent years which also has an impact on the increased crime rates.

He believes the Neighbourhood Watch program can reduce burglaries by 26 per cent.

Winthrop resident Brendan Cahill was also a victim of crime and says this sort of activity has increased over the past two to three years.

Mr Cahill says he presumes the increase in crime is due to illicit drugs and those people looking for easy targets.

Another resident of Winthrop, Bailey Gatland, has experienced an incident of threatening behaviour outside his property.

He says the incident occurred at night, when two men in a car were following him while he was driving.

Mr Gatland says they tailed him to his house, where they cornered him in his car and were using threatening behaviour towards him.

“The two men came up to me in my car and started asking me questions like, do you have any girls in your car?” he says.

He says he was in complete shock and couldn’t do anything because he was stuck in his car.

The two men ran back to their vehicle and drove off.

Mr Gatland says he has never seen these men before and hasn’t seen them or their car since.