An Altona cafe owner is calling for action amid a spate of break-ins at Harrington Square, saying the shopping centre has become a playground for crooks.
Birdcage Altona Cafe owner Adrian Davey said his business, which has been open six months, was last week burgled for the third time this year.
“We’ve been done three times, the newsagency three times just this year, Cartridge World as well and the barber next door,” he said.
He said that early on Wednesday morning, intruders spent considerable time drilling into concrete to get inside his cafe.
“These people got their drills out, drilled the concrete – that would be extremely loud and take some time,” he said. “But no one sees or hears anything.
“I was standing there [Wednesday] morning with the police officers and they said, ‘I wonder why it always gets hit around here’, and I said, ‘Take a look around you – there’s no one here, it’s pitch-black dark’.
“The front carpark has no lighting, no cameras. It’s a playground for criminals – they can take their time.”
PSOs who are posted at Westona station, opposite Harrington Square, leave after the last train.
Rod Cain from Cartridge World said action was desperately needed after his business was also recently broken into.
“They just smashed the front glass in the door and came in and ransacked the place and they didn’t take anything,” he said. “We need someone to help as soon as they can.
“It’s been an all-too frequent occurrence of recent times.”
A newsagency representative did not want to be quoted but said there needed to be more lights and cameras.
Hobsons Bay police Inspector Michelle Young said patrols would be stepped up and talks would continue with traders.
“We value any information that may assist us in our investigations of these incidents and other concerns as raised by the community,” she said.
Hobsons Bay mayor Sandra Wilson said the council was working with traders and holding discussions with police on what more the council could do to help.
“We know that crimes like this distress our community,” she said. “We all need to work together on increasing safety in public places.”
The square shot to notoriety after the near-fatal bashing of former bookshop owner Jill Brookes on July 20, 2012.
It is understood she is in a nursing home after the assault, which remains unsolved.
Anyone with information should call Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.