Dramatic scenes outside Darwin Woolworths as tensions flare: 'So sad'
The spotlight is firmly on crime in the Northern Territory and this incident is an example of what residents are facing.
Video of the moment a man launches pot plants outside a Darwin Woolworths has prompted claims residents are scared to leave their homes, as business owners say a change is desperately needed.
The footage was uploaded online late on Monday and shows the shirtless man grab a pot from inside the CBD Plaza and throw it on the ground, sending soil across the floor of the shopping complex.
A security guard manages to prevent the man from throwing another before escorting him outside.
Last year the same shopping plaza made national headlines when a large fight broke out at the entrance of the Woolworths store.
The latest incident prompted several comments from residents saying they don't shop locally anymore. A Reddit user claiming to be the intervening security guard said he works at the neighbouring bus stop and the incident is "nothing compared to what we deal with".
"This is an everyday event. We see this day to day and no one comes till it's too late."
Another user said the situation at three of the supermarket's stores in the area is "why my family uses online shopping", adding it was sad to see shops in the area "dying".
"It’s no wonder why small businesses fail in Darwin," another said.
In response to the footage, Northern Territory Police told Yahoo News Australia it urged members of the public who witness crime or anti-social behaviour to contact police. "NT Police condemn any form of anti-social behaviour, particularly alcohol related violence, within our community," police said.
Speaking to Yahoo News Australia on Tuesday, the manager of a cafe near the Woolworths said that while there had been a drop off in business, it was due to the festive period. "Things are actually a little bit better now, with shoppers and office workers coming back," she explained.
She said she had not seen alarm from customers due to anti-social behaviour in the CBD.
Darwin restaurateur fears break-in everyday
However restaurateur Frank Yeh, who owns nearby teppanyaki eatery Oka in Parap, told Yahoo News Australia he goes to bed every night wondering whether the shop's alarm will go off. Last year the venue fell victim to a break-in.
In 2019 he was forced to close his Palmerston restaurant, and said crime played a significant role in his decision. His shop window was smashed three times during a 10-day period and one of the perpetrators told him he did so because he was "bored".
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"It happened continually, I had to sleep in the restaurant. It was so sad, they even threw rocks at me."
Mr Yeh says crime in the city is as rampant as ever and says there is a strong desire among business owners for authorities to get tougher on criminals. "If they're not going to change the law, they're not going to fix the problem," he said.
Yet he said members of parliament making such decisions "aren't living in the real world" and need to experience the problems first-hand to understand the issues.
"We keep talking about criminals' rights but what about citizens' rights? We work hard, we pay our taxes and we have a right to feel safe."
Alice Springs remains in the spotlight
It comes as crime rates have soared in Alice Springs in the state, with restrictions on the sale of alcohol enforced across the city in a bid to quell troubles locals are facing.
Prime Minister Anthony Albanese visited the area last week and Senator Malarndirri McCarthy hopes there will be a positive change in Alice Springs following the national spotlight on crime issues in the area.
Yet she warned against the use of defence force personnel to tackle the problem.
"In 2007 when that did occur with the army coming in and soldiers coming in, there was a great level of panic and heightened concern," she said.
"There is a leftover trauma from that experience for a lot of families, and I would caution against wanting to call the ADF in."
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