Cashless card 'not to blame for crime spree': Pitt

A SPATE of break-ins across Hervey Bay has led to speculation the introduction of the Cashless Debit Card might be behind the increase in crime.

But Hinkler MP Keith Pitt described such suggestions as "scaremongering", adding that there were no cashless cards in the city yet.

"There are no Cashless Debit Cards in Hervey Bay and won't be for some weeks, due to the progressive nature of the rollout, so claims that a spate of break-ins could be linked to the card is just plain scaremongering."

While some business owners and employees wondered whether the card, which allows recipients to withdraw just 20 per cent of their benefits in cash, could be behind a series of break-ins in the area, Mr Pitt said there was no evidence the introduction of the cards would lead to more crime.

"There was no increase in crime in the other Cashless Debit Card trial sites," Mr Pitt, a strong advocate of the card, said.

"This is a trial and I ask that people keep an open mind and not scaremonger."

Under the scheme, cardholders would not be able to use the cashless card to gamble or buy alcohol.

Both cash and alcohol were stolen during the break-ins.

According to information provided by the Federal Government the card will first be rolled out in Bundaberg with Childers to follow, then Hervey Bay and Howard.

"This means not all participants will receive their cards at the same time."

Ahead of the rollout in Hervey Bay, shopfronts have been opened at Hervey Bay Neighbourhood Centre and at the city's Centrelink office in order to keep residents informed.

The shopfronts will open from 8.30am to 4.30pm.

Peter Imbesi from Ice Cream Delite said at first he suspected the Cashless Debit Card might have played a part in the rash of robberies.

But now he believes the suspect, who was captured on the CCTV footage of several businesses, must have been from out of town, adding that no one had seen any sign of the person since the spate of break-ins in which about 12 businesses fell victim.

The business nextdoor to Mr Imbesi's, the Humpback Pizza Shack, was one of the businesses that was robbed.

Coast restaurant and the Torquay Hotel were also broken into, along with a florist, butchery and a petrol station.

In the same week Pialba's post office also fell victim, with an intruder gaining entry after smashing a glass door and stealing several mobile phones.

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