Shop horror

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Hampton Park shop front , Taken by Lachlan Mitchell

The Hampton Park shopping precinct is made up of a gym, grocery stores, a mechanic and a library.

In the past month the shopping area has become a hotspot for crime with aggravated assaults, vandalism and brazen robbery all occurring. 

Some locals say they’re afraid of going to the shops, resorting to travelling further to ensure safety.

Hampton Park resident Wendy Harris says her 17-year-old son was assaulted and attacked as he walked home from the local gym.

“He was punched several times, hit several times by an electronic device like a taser and robbed of money and his phone,” Ms Harris said. “It was in broad daylight as he came home from the gym. So, it was an armed robbery.

“Two arrests were made,” Ms Harris said.

The attack has left her son battered and bruised fearful of leaving the house again.

“He is scared. He can’t wait until he can drive himself. Neither of us will walk around here at night, but we still like living here. He will only walk around during the day with friends. Hardly goes to the gym anymore.”

Wendy has made it clear that she did not want her son’s name disclosed in order to protect his privacy. In fear of further retaliation 

The attack on Wendy’s son is just one of many assaults on shoppers and businesses.

Khan Haz Adeeb owns the precinct’s grocery store “Dandy Mart” which specialises in catering to the Middle Eastern community is no stranger to the violence and damage that has been caused by vandals.

“Since I opened my business in 2012, I have been broken into six times with windows shattered.

“We have had our backdoor smashed in with lots of damage. 

“I tried to raise funds for local charities and had a jar that fills up with coins and customers loose change and that has been robbed on two occasions.”

Mr Adeeb is fearful that during work hours when is staff is working the register that they might be attacked during the day.

“It scares me a little bit. No-one deserves to be hurt or injured at work.”

Khan is currently deliberating whether he should close his shop and move on due to the constant damage and the lack of police help.

Broken Shop Front – Photo Supplied by Khan Haz Adeeb

“Last time I called the police nothing happened,” he said. “They take the footage and move on they don’t call back and take reports with no real follow up.

“I have stopped calling them because they waste my time and don’t do anything.”  

The land on which the shops sit is private property owned by three separate individuals. The local council has been made aware of the issues that surround the precinct.

Councillor Wayne Smith represents the River Gum ward. He expressed his sadness in the events that have occurred to Khan and the residents who have faced trauma and feel unsafe.

“It’s a shame what’s been happening to owners like the Dandy Mart owner,” Cr Smith said.

“We would love to help more in terms of the shopping precinct, but we can’t as it is under private property. We can only suggest way but unfortunately that where it ends.

“We have contacted the shopping precinct and advised them about the best way to go about improving security regarding improved security and an increase of cameras,” he said.

Cr Smith has made it clear the City of Casey’s hands are tied when trying to implement security changes around the Dandy Mart as it is privately owned.

“Asking for a higher police presence in the area and we would love to control who comes and lives in the area, but we can’t do that. 

“Increased funding and a higher police presence would be ideal.”

The crime rate in Victoria has dropped 7.0% from 2017 since the end of 2018 with incidents per 100,000 people dropping from 6,420 to 5,922. The overall crime rates do show a drop off in common assault and threating behaviour from 2017 . 

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