Gang problem grows in Cabarita
CABARITA Beach residents are living in fear of a gang that identifies itself by the town's 2488 postcode.
A shopping centre car park behind Coast Road and only metres from a childcare centre has been claimed by the youths.
The area is covered in graffiti dating back to at least 2005, and in a dark corner of the car park a filthy den has developed, with bongs, used in drug-taking, on the floor and graffiti covering the walls: “we got guns and sh..”, one piece boasts.
Cabarita Beach Childcare Services manager Christina-Grace May said she was aware of the postcode gang's presence in the village and that she often found bongs and lighters in the centre's playground.
She arrived at work on Monday to discover one of the centre's shade sails torn and hanging from its frame. She is wary of the car park next door.
“You really don't go up there by yourself,” Ms May said.
She said “2488” was not the only gang in the village, and that they were an escalating problem, as the kids who formed them years ago as 12 and 13-year-olds were now in their late teens and had created a culture of violence.
Ms May claimed the youths were obtaining weapons from outlaw motorcycle gangs, who were using the likes of “2488” to groom new members.
“These gangs, if police think they don't have weapons, they just have their head in the sand,” she said. “There is a really worrying culture in this town. They are making a nice coastal town unsafe.”
She said on New Year's Eve a local man was assaulted in the car park with a weapon.
The revelations about Cabarita's gang violence comes in the wake of a wild brawl on Saturday when up to 50 youths gathered in the car park and fought in the adjoining vacant block of land.
At the same time, another brawl broke out at a hotel across the road and the venue was forced to close.
Local resident Tom Benditz told the Tweed Daily News that up to 50 youths gathered in the Main Street Plaza car park, fighting and shouting obscene abuse at each other and passers by.
“They obstructed traffic on the main road as they ran to and fro throwing objects. I witnessed a smaller congregation of youths beating and kicking another person lying helplessly on the pavement. Young girls were present as they encouraged this senseless violence,” Mr Benditz said.
He said the police were powerless, as the large gang of athletic youths quickly dispersed at the sight of a police car.
“There have been other incidents down here; it is getting uncomfortable for the residents,” Mr Benditz said. “A lot of people down here stay inside their homes; they don't want to talk about it, but I am sick of it.”
Inspector Darren Steel of Tweed Heads police confirmed there was a brawl outside a Cabarita hotel on Saturday night and kids were on the streets - but said no charges were laid. “There were certainly groups of children in the street, and police moved on a number of groups, but no offences were detected,” Insp Steel said.
Mr Benditz and Ms May both said police were under-resourced and called for a higher police presence in the town.