Victorian Opposition leader Matthew Guy visited Mooroopna yesterday following a crime spree in the town last month.
‘‘It’s pretty clear that there are issues, whether it’s gangs or youth violence, in Mooroopna that just aren’t being addressed,’’ he said, after speaking with McLennan St business owners.
‘‘We need to look at CCTV cameras, a stronger police presence at the Mooroopna Police Station — all of these things need to be considered.’’
Flanked by Liberal candidate Cheryl Hammer and Member for Northern Victoria Wendy Lovell, Mr Guy said it was not good enough that shopkeepers were bearing the brunt of youth crime.
‘‘Law and order isn’t just an issue for Melbourne, it’s an issue right across Victoria and we want to make sure our state is safe again,’’ he said.
‘‘People in Mooroopna deserve something better... only the Liberal and National parties have a deliberate policy change.’’
Five youths, aged 14, 15, 15, 16 and 16, have been charged in relation to the crimes spree.
Leaving a trail of damage and angering business owners during a period of crime which began on a Friday night and peaked in the early hours of a Tuesday morning.
One victim, Talisman Menswear owner Paul Jerome, said the judicial system ‘‘sucked’’ and didn’t support victims.
‘‘Once these kids get to the judicial system they’re allowed straight back out, they need to be held accountable for what they’ve done,’’ he said.
‘‘I think the parents have a lot to do with it, they treat them as friend, not a child and these kids have no fear of authority.’’
Mr Jerome said recent crime had caused physical and mental toll, and he battled to get to sleep at night following the break-in at his shop.
‘‘Sadly, each and everytime I’ve been a victim of crime I’ve never been told when the perpetrator is facing court,’’ he said.
Mr Guy blamed the Victorian Government for changing youth bail laws.
‘‘Our criminal system is too weak, police don’t have the ability to hold people,’’ he said.
‘‘I’ll give police the ability to hold who they need... (because) if you’ve got 17-year-olds smashing up a shop, police can apprehend them but can’t hold them.’’
Last year, the government passed the Children and Justice Legislation (Youth Justice Reform) Bill 2017 to crack down on youth crime.
‘‘The community rightly expects young offenders to be punished for their crimes,’’ Attorney-General Martin Pakula said in September.
‘‘Our reforms will hold young offenders to account and help keep the community safe.’’
Greater Shepparton City Council officials and Mooroopna business owners will conduct a walk on McLennan St tonight to flesh out the community’s concerns.