Friday, March 28, 2003

Shoplifting and homelessness

Shoplifting increased by 7.5 per cent last year, making it the only major crime category to register a significant increase in 2002, crime statistics show.

David Johnson, a 19-year old who spent several years on the streets, and in and out of youth refuges, believes there is a direct link between social welfare benefits and crime.

"If they can't have any income, that's what they will do, they'll revert to stealing. As I was saying before, they're cancelling out all the rent assistance. They're cancelling out all the pensioner's payments," he said.

He worries the perception of more crime will result in putting more police on the streets, which will simply result in more harassment of young people while real crimes go un-addressed.

"It's a chain reaction kind of thing. No payments, more crime. More crime, more cops. More cops, more harassment. It goes back to the bloody payments, basically," he said.

He said he has never been imprisoned, but was given a warning over two counts of petty theft when he was younger.

"I just stole a packet of Tim Tams from the bloody corner shop. I didn't realise the camera was looking straight at me," he said.

For Jesse Karauwan, a former homeless youth who served time for 27 drug and theft charges, the solution isn't dole payments, but providing the young with incentives to find work.

"You get nine dollars or something if you're at [McDonald's] or something or anywhere else. I suppose you're young, fair enough, I mean, you shouldn't make that much more than someone who's older. But like if they gave some incentive for them to actually go and look for work.

"Just say they leave school, school dropouts, instead of just hanging around, collecting the dole, smoking marijuana or whatever they do, give them some good incentive to go and find work," he said.

Attempted thong theft costs $560

A man has been fined $500 after appearing in a northern New South Wales court charged with stealing a pair of thongs.

By Satis Fied 28 March 03

THE RAT: Did you think these kids were just plain bad?


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