Violent robbery the last straw for retailer
A CAIRNS bottle shop repeatedly preyed upon by thieves and thugs is about to shut its doors for good after an alleged violent attack on a young staff member.
The Bottle-O at Earlville, just across the road from Stockland Cairns shopping centre, was allegedly targeted about 4pm on Monday by three males.
A 19-year-old shop assistant was allegedly grabbed around the neck, thrown to the ground and struck with a knee after he approached the trio, who then fled the store with three cartons of booze.
The alleged violent robbery was the final straw for bottle shop owner Tom Hedley, who yesterday made the tough decision to pull the plug on the business.
Company spokesman Red Beret Group retail manager David Harris said operations would slow down over the coming weeks before the doors were bolted shut.
"Our staff are just doing their jobs," he said.
"It's just not worth putting up with the safety risk and all the theft any more."
Earlville, and Stockland Cairns Shopping Centre in particular, has been the focus of the ongoing Greater Cairns Taskforce policing blitz on street crime.
Mr Harris said the bottle shop had operated for two and a half years but theft had become rampant in the past few months.
"It comes in waves," he said.
"The Christmas and New Year period was out of hand.
"Some months are good, but then you get days like Sunday, with $400 worth of grog gone, and last night with another $180 stolen.
"If you're talking even a grand a month just in theft, that's a lot of money at the end of the day. I've got staff who don't want to work there any more and the safety of staff has to be the priority."
Two men have been charged over the matter.
Townsville man Asroma Kris, 25, and Bungalow man John Wilkie Waia, 18, appeared in the Cairns Magistrates Court yesterday charged with robbery with violence while in company.
Both were remanded in custody with their cases adjourned until April 22.
Cairns police Detective Acting Senior Sergeant Brad McLeish said CCTV footage had been obtained at the scene and a hunt was under way to track down the third alleged offender, suspected to be a juvenile male.
"We believe we know the identity of the third person," he said.
The bottle shop currently employs four people.
Anyone with information is asked to contact police or Crime Stoppers.