Mini crime spree

Minjee Lee’s father Soonam discuss the damage to his cafe with police. Photos by Phil Farren

FREMANTLE and its suburbs are suffering a mini crime wave, although overall the city is on track to record its lowest crime rate in at least 15 years.

The latest police statistics show steep rises in stealing and fraud over the last couple of months; in White Gum Valley they jumped threefold between January and March.

A valley homeowner who suffered a break-in late April told the Herald he’d heard of “a transient couple in the area hitting up a streak”.

“Police are on to it, I think, but I wasn’t informed the house opposite me was robbed a week before mine was – disappointing,” he said.

Stealing and assaults nearly doubled in the Fremantle CBD between December and January (when Tent City occupied Pioneer Park) and while they dropped back again in February, they’ve started to climb again.

But on current trends, the total number of reported offences in central Fremantle would be around 2,600 by the end of the financial year. That’s the lowest amongst available police records stretching back to 2007, although assaults and property damage remain stubbornly high.

Bike and moped thefts seem to be driving a large amount of the theft, with the Chook regularly coming across another punter lamenting the loss of a treadly – with the electric variety in hot demand amongst crooks.

The Facebook page Freo Stolen Bikes is also trending, with 1000 members and almost daily updates on lost or abandoned bikes.

Fremantle councillor Rachel Pemberton, a driving forces behind the council’s investment in cycling infrastructure, doesn’t believe the bike thefts would derail plans to turn the city into a two-wheeled Mecca.

“Bike theft seems to be opportunistic – a free ride home and the bike is later dumped,” she said.

Cr Pemberton, an e-bike theft victim herself, said the increase in thefts could reflect the greater number of bikes around Fremantle – Covid has sent sales soaring.

But to address the problem, the council would be implementing a “Green Zone” project over the next 12 months, where bike parking would be concentrated in high-visibility areas and under CCTV.

She says it might not prevent every theft, but would be much easier to manage than a lock-up facility.

“Plus, we are looking at a subsidised D-lock program to encourage local residents to get effective bike locks to reduce bike theft,” Cr Pemberton said. 

Fremantle resident Chandler Morris had his moped stolen when it was left unattended for a few minutes. “Make sure you lock up your bikes to avoid what happened to me,” was his message to Fremantle residents.

A stolen moped is believed to have been used in a bizarre ram raid at the Winthrop shops a fortnight ago which damaged the cafe owned by the parents of former world number 2 women’s golfing champion Minjee Lee.

A barber’s shop was also targeted, with the hooded thieves forcing the moped through the front door before snatching two cash registers.

Winthrop’s robbery is a bit out of the mould, as it’s crime rate has been steadily falling over the last decade and the 20/21 financial year was shaping up to be the most lawful yet.

by STEVE GRANT and ETHAN TEO

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