A RECENT spate of late-night break-ins and acts of street vandalism on Watkins Road has business owners in Wangi Wangi on edge.
Michelle and Carl Tabone, who run Vita Cafe and Restaurant, said an intruder smashed through the glass door of their business and “ransacked the place” causing $3,500 in damage and lost stock.
“It’s certainly made us more vigilant,” Ms Tabone said.
“Only the other morning we saw a guy who we think was checking out our window and the door. That’s our mindset now.
“I’m just glad that the new Toronto police station is open.”
She said police from Lake Macquarie Local Area Command had visited the town and were investigating.
“They came out and did a big investigation and looked at surveillance camera footage, and took fingerprints.”
John Rusin, who owns the Little Thai Monkey restaurant, said an intruder used a crowbar to gain entry to his premises, before stealing $350 from the till, and a mobile phone.
“I have [CCTV] cameras everywhere, but he wore long sleeves and pants and covered his head,” Mr Rusin said.
He said the incident was followed soon after by attempted break-ins at the post office and RSL club.
Mr Rusin has since boosted after-hours security at the restaurant, and no longer leaves cash on the premises overnight.
He said he and his staff were now much more likely to notice suspicious behaviour around them.
“For example, we’ve been here at midnight after work and noticed the same car kept coming past driving slowly,” he said.
It was a similar story at Harris Building Design Services, where draughtsman Matt Alexander said the incidents had prompted some changes in their office.
“We’ve put in a new door, with extra bolts and locks, we don’t leave any valuables here at the end of the day, and I make back-ups of our work every day,” Mr ALexander said.
“It’s quite concerning.”
Some business owners who did not want to be identified said they were worried the incidents would deter shoppers and impact trade.
“But on the whole, Wangi is usually very good. During the day there is not an issue here,” one said.
Last Friday night, however, vandals targeted street signs on Watkins Road, removing some, and bending others to the ground.
Wangi Hardware proprietor Sonja Dyke-Clark, whose premises were broken into last November, said the incidents were disappointing, particularly coming after the 2016 Wangi Centenary celebrations “had given the town such a boost”.
“It’s sad, really,” she said.