Laneway closed as residents battle rampaging youths
SENIORS in Redbank have spent months living in fear, locked in their own homes and chasing would-be thieves off their properties in the dead of the night.
A group of 30 youths have been regularly terrorising the neighbourhood, leaving residents fearful of everyday tasks like taking their bin to the curb in the dark.
Now the residents have banded together and, working with both the council and the police, believe they've come up with a solution to make their streets safe again.
The action is centered around a laneway linking Kerwick and Lewis Sts.
Residents say those running from police use it as a fast route to the Redbank Train Station where they jump on trains to escape.
Max Barnes, 73 has been living in Redbank his whole life and says one young man even tried to "fight him".
"They walk along the streets trying to break into all the cars," Max said.
"About 1am one night I woke up and there were a few of them under our house.
I chased them away and we put locks on the gates but they just cut them off."
Since January there have been 101 reported thefts in the area surrounding the Barnes' home just off Kerwick St. That laneway runs alongside an empty block opposite their home.
Council closed the laneway on Monday and a gate was erected on a trial basis following several community meetings with about 70 residents.
Vickie Allen-Hoens, who founded the Redbank Community Group, said the vacant block was providing people with a dark hiding spot as well as access to the train station where they could make a quick escape.
She said it was disgusting that people felt trapped in their homes and would do anything within her power to protect her neighbours.
"We should be able to go where we want and do what we want without living in fear," Ms Allen-Hoens said.
"We're hoping closing the laneway will help deter these people from using our neighbourhood as a hang out."
The first community meeting was held in May with officers from Goodna police station, who said some of the issues raised included theft, safety and threats to harm animals.
Officer in Charge of Goodna police Senior Sergeant Greg Shaw said shutting the laneway was an example of the public, police and the council working together.
"It is important that we all play a part on making our communities safe," he said.