Acting Superintendent Jason Overland.
Acting Superintendent Jason Overland.

Patrols to shut down looters as venues lay empty

POLICE will begin patrolling deserted businesses and venues emptied by the coronavirus shutdown, to head off would-be looters.

Sunshine Coast Acting Superintendent and District Officer Jason Overland said the patrols were "part of our planning", but there was no intelligence at this stage that things would "go nuts".

He said having people around at the moment, and so many based at home, was acting as a strong deterrent for criminals.

He said licensed venues forced to close as a result of the growing pandemic would be checked on regularly by patrolling officers, while Tactical Crime Squad crews were monitoring essential business closures.

"There is sufficient police to look after property," Supt Overland said.

He said the thinning out of crowds in public places as a result of social distancing and self-isolation had made it easier for officers to identify suspicious behaviour and locate offenders.

Alex Surf Club general manager Ashley Robinson said looting and break-ins were a "major concern" for the club, after it was forced to close its doors earlier this week.

It's managed to maintain a takeaway presence through its kiosk, but he was concerned about the venue laying dormant overnight, as more people got more desperate.

He said lifesavers were locking equipment up earlier too, in a bid to deter thieves.

Mr Robinson said they'd doubled their private security patrols of the premises at night, and would do so as long as they could afford to.

Ashley Robinson from the Alex Surf Club with patrons in the background.
Ashley Robinson from the Alex Surf Club with patrons in the background.

He expected police would not be able to keep up with demand for service in the future, and encouraged the government to make security courses shorter and more accessible, to try and fill the void.

Mr Robinson tipped material possessions to be looked at "in a whole new light" when the pandemic eventually passed, as people realised health, both business and family, was paramount.

He said he "100 per cent" wanted to get his staff back on board when the club reopened.

Supt Overland said Coast police would also have their role to play in the Queensland border shutdown ordered by Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk this week.

He said police would provide an interception point at the Sunshine Coast Airport for people as they got off planes.

Supt Overland said there weren't many flights coming in and he expected they would tail off further as the situation progressed.


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