Mt Druitt - St Mary's Standard (East) - - FRONT PAGE - Ali­son Bald­ing

PLENTY of good is tak­ing place to ex­tin­guish the bad rep­u­ta­tion of Mt Druitt’s Daw­son Mall and in­crease safety in the area.

But many con­cede there is still a long way to go.

The Stan­dard headed out to chat to shop­pers, com­mu­nity groups, busi­ness own­ers and those just hang­ing out dur­ing the Thurs­day night late trade.

There was singing and danc­ing, free food stalls and sausage siz­zles, but be­hind it shop own­ers live with graf­fiti, shoplifters and bin fires – and make clean­ing urine from their shopfronts part of their daily rou­tine.

PUBLIC uri­na­tion, graf­fiti, al­co­hol-fu­elled an­ti­so­cial be­hav­iour and crime are still af­fect­ing Mt Druitt’s Daw­son Mall.

The mall’s Hot Price va­ri­ety stall owner Lisa Loiu said she can no longer ob­tain in­sur­ance for her busi­ness as her store is a con­stant tar­get for van­dals.

“The locks are al­ways be­ing dam­aged, I don’t know why – maybe by peo­ple try­ing to break in,” she said.

“The glass is al­ways be­ing cov­ered in graf­fiti or bro­ken.

“It costs $5000 per win­dow to re­place, and I have eight big win­dows. No one will in­sure me now be­cause it hap­pens all the time and is too ex­pen­sive.”

Ms Loiu said whether opened or closed, her shop’s back door and en­trance are con­stantly used as makeshift uri­nals, and rub­bish bins are regularly set alight.

She said the worst be­hav­iour she has seen in 14 years hap­pened a few years ago, when she wouldn’t sell a lighter to two young teens as they were un­der­age.

“They some­how snuck a lighter when I wasn’t look­ing, went to the can­dle aisle and started a fire in the shop.

“The po­lice came but there was noth­ing they could do.”

Ms Loiu said shoplift­ing hap­pened on a daily ba­sis.

“Kids will come in, re­move a tag from a jacket and put it on,” she said.

“When I ask them to put it back they say ‘this is my jacket’ and there is noth­ing I can do.

“I can’t grab it off them be­cause I am not al­lowed to touch them – and they know it.”

Lawrence Ber­nal and his friends were walk­ing through the mall to­wards the end of the late-night trade and said, while he felt safe there, other nights could be very dif­fer­ent.

Mr Ber­nal said if Black­town Coun­cil was to in­stall a $1.6 mil­lion play­ground “there’d be a 50/50 chance it will get dam­aged”.

Mt Druitt act­ing crime man­ager Scott Houldin said proac­tive pa­trols of Daw­son Mall and Mt Druitt sta­tion are now done on a daily ba­sis.

Ad­di­tional pa­trols are con­ducted by of­fi­cers from Mt Druitt and the Po­lice Trans­port Com­mand.

“We have built strong re- la­tion­ships with lo­cal busi­ness own­ers and will con­tinue to work closely to en­sure the safety of the lo­cal com­mu­nity,” Insp Houldin said.

“Our ap­proach to crime preven­tion in Daw­son Mall fo­cuses on a va­ri­ety of dif­fer­ent strate­gies which com­ple­ment each other, rather than one be­ing more ef­fec­tive than another.

“We will con­tinue to work with spe­cial­ist re­sources, in­clud­ing the Po­lice Trans­port Com­mand and Dog Unit, and con­duct both overt and covert oper­a­tions through­out Mt Druitt.”

Lo­cals Lawrence Ber­nal (right), Matt Steele, Jeff Vi­ray and Lowe Na­palan (front) in the mall.

Hot Price owner Lisa Loiu says the out­side of her shop is regularly used as a uri­nal.

Graf­fiti is a prob­lem in the mall but po­lice are on pa­trol(right).

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