Mum forced to set traps after repeated break-ins
Townsville woman Kristine Ham and her husband set "little traps" around their house every night to catch out young criminals in case they ever try to break in again, just as they had three months ago.
The former Brisbane woman, who moved to north Queensland last year to take over the family childcare business, said she didn't realise the extent of the city's struggle with crime until becoming a victim herself and the issue would influence her vote at the state election.
And the perennial election issue could swing Townsville's three marginal Labor-held seats political experts say, particularly in Thuringowa (Labor, 4.1 per cent).
During a crime surge in February the rate of break-ins in Townsville was 259 for every 100,000 people, nearly three times the statewide average of 88. The rate of car thefts in the city was 77 for every 100,000 people, compared with 31 in Queensland as a whole.
Townsville's three Labor MPs have sustained significant criticism on youth crime and youth justice issues over the last four years, particularly on an amendment to youth bail laws in September last year that led to repeat youth offenders who were a danger to the community being granted bail.
Ms Ham, a mother of three, said a group of youths some as young as 12 broke into her home in the dead of night in July, stealing the family ute and her handbag.
Brazenly, the kids returned to her home the same night after finding the keys to her Audi in her handbag.
But a hi-tech immobiliser that Ms Ham had installed in her car that requires a series of buttons to be pushed meant they couldn't take off.
The family, alongside CCTV and the bell attached to their front gate, have installed alarms on their doors and windows, push chairs in front of the doors around their house and leaned curtain rails against entrances at night so they'll hear intruders if they ever try to break in.
"It feels like every second person I speak to has either been a victim of crime or know someone who has been … it's like a rite of passage in Townsville," she said.
James Cook University senior politics lecturer Dr Maxine Newlands said the divisive issue, which had been a hallmark of every state and federal election campaign in Townsville in recent years, did influence how people voted, and it ultimately came down to security.
"We will vote for people that we think will make us safe," she said.
"Education, crime or jobs … feeling secure, generally, is what we are wanting.
"It's the role of politicians to try and address that."
Dr Newlands believes the impact of crime would be more pronounced in Thuringowa, which Labor holds with a margin of 4.1 per cent.
The LNP had weaponised the perception of Townsville's spiralling crime prior to the campaign, preselecting candidates with strong records on community safety, including serving police officer Glenn Doyle in Mundingburra and former local CrimeStoppers chair Natalie Marr in Thuringowa.
Labor have attempted to satiate community concern, promising more than 2000 police officers statewide, a $30 million upgrade of a police station in Townsville, alongside two mini police stations on wheels for the city.
Originally published as Mum forced to set traps after repeated break ins