WATCH: Shop owner powerless to stop youths on the prowl
PLASTERED on the front of cigarette cabinets at a suburban convenience store are the faces of children business owners say are responsible for thousands of dollars worth of petty theft.
They're part of a "pack" of nine children as young as eight years old that Redbank News and Convenience owner Peter Clymo says ambush his store every day.
They steal drinks, flavoured milk, chips, lollies and chocolate bars but Mr Clymo said he has also seen some of the children inhale cans of deodorant they've stolen from his business.
"Rexona Sports just goes straight down their necks, they're drinking the stuff," Mr Clymo said.
"We lost seven or eight cans of deodorant in the past four weeks and that's just the deodorant. They steal everything because they go everywhere."
My Clymo said he had been battling youth theft for seven years but more recently was faced with packs of kids running riot.
"There used to be four persistent young girls in full school uniforms who would take about $14 worth of stuff every single day. I was smiling and talking nicely to them when the girls were hiding things up their sisters' dresses and stealing all the chocolate bars," he said.
"It's been happening for six or seven years but now, in the past two years, we have a pack mentality where they are running together."
Last financial year the family-owned business lost close to $5000 worth of stock due to petty theft.
Mr Clymo said it's enough to ruin his business but his biggest concern was staff safety.
"I can see them at the door and by the time they get around the corner they're already split up throughout the store. They don't come in singles, there's a pack mentality," he said.
"They see my injured leg and yell 'come on, grandma, come and get me'.
"I also feel unsafe for my staff as most of the time we are only one person here. I am putting myself in danger.
More than 300 property offences in Redbank were reported to police in the past year, including close to 250 stealing and theft offences.
Mr Clymo is among a group of Redbank business owners and residents faced with the wrath of youth street crime.
Last year Redbank Community Group founder Vickie Allen-Hoens campaigned to have a fence erected to block an alley way between Kerwick and Lewis Sts to limit foot traffic between homes in the dead of night.
At the time she said the fence was proposed as a temporary solution and while she had noticed a reduction in crime rates, it was proving as little deterrent to groups of juvenile offenders. "What happens is if they steal something from the plaza, or even at night time they can hide down here because it's not very well lit. You can hide down here and not be seen," she said.
In November, Redbank resident Troy New sat in Ipswich District Court as a teenager two youths were sentenced for their role in his assault.
Mr New said a gang of up to 30 youths followed him to the pub in December 2013 demanding cigarettes.
A Queensland Police Service spokesperson said police worked in close partnership with other agencies in addressing antisocial behaviour by young people in the Redbank area.
"Resources are allocated to the Redbank Plaza Beat Office and additional staff when available during peak shopping times. The Railway Squad also maintains an outpost at the Redbank Railway Station. As always in Ipswich, we deal closely with the Safe City network to identify and locate offenders," the spokesperson said.
"We are committed to investigating cases of shoplifting in the Redbank area and work closely with business owners encouraging them to report incidents to police when they occur."