Video shows disturbing youth crime spree
RESIDENTS in one city in northern Queensland are under siege from a group of young criminals, with many people feeling unsafe even in their own homes.
Children as young as eight are breaking into Townsville homes, attacking residents and taking stolen cars on dangerous joy rides.
Local residents Amanda McLean and Tabitha Hurst run a Facebook crime watch group with 48,000 members.
They said while the local police were doing all they could to bring the situation under control, the children were not scared of the law.
"It's frightening. It's very terrifying," Ms Hurst told Nine's A Current Affair.
"It's not safe to drive your car, it's not safe to drive your kids to school."
Numerous videos obtained by the program show just how vicious this group of youths can be.
One clip shows a young person repeatedly punching an adult who was lying in the middle of the road.
Another video, taken last week, shows an allegedly stolen ute filled with children as young as 11 speeding down the wrong side of the road.
An allegedly stolen range rover then joins the chase, with both cars driving at high speeds down residential streets.
Two tradies are then allegedly threatened with a syringe before having their car stolen.
Local police were forced to call in a government helicopter to help track the alleged offenders.
As a result all flights out of Townsville Airport had to be diverted and delayed to make sure the airspace was clear.
"It was like something out of an American movie. It was like something out of Dodge City. It was just unbelievable to watch it unfold," local state MP and former police officer Dale Last said.
"I think these young offenders are hunting as a pack … feeding off each other. They are now treating it as some sort of a game."
Following the major car chase, Queensland Police launched Operation Romeo Saville to bring those responsible to justice, along with any other law breakers.
Seventeen people have been arrested as part of the operation and charged with 108 offences.
Acting Superintendent Damian Crosby said investigations were ongoing, but he was confident the "core group" of offenders were in custody.
Other videos captured from a home security camera show a group of young people testing doors at different houses to see which would be the easiest to break into.
Locals say this is a regular occurrence around the area, and residents are having their homes broken into and car keys snatched.
"We work hard for our possessions and our vehicles and to have them taken away by a 10-year-old child is just ridiculous," Ms Hurst said.
"You do what you need to do to protect your property and your possessions."
Shae Tucker and her friend Tegan Moore told the program they were attacked by a group of about 30 children.
The gang had thrown rocks at Ms Tucker's car, and when she stopped to look at the damage, the children surrounded them.
She said one of the children who hit her was only eight years old.
"They were screaming for the car keys," she said.
"They had no remorse for anyone. They don't care, they will do it to anyone."
Ms Moore said she was screaming for them to stop, but it did nothing to deter them.
"I just remember kicking and screaming and saying, 'Get away from me, get away from me', and they just didn't care. There was people laughing," she said.
"Having four or five kids on top of you is pretty scary."
The pair were eventually rescued by a passing motorist.