With many businesses in the Cairns CBD closed due to government restrictions on coronavirus, police have increased both foot and bike patrols in the inner city. PICTURE: BRENDAN RADKE.
With many businesses in the Cairns CBD closed due to government restrictions on coronavirus, police have increased both foot and bike patrols in the inner city. PICTURE: BRENDAN RADKE.

COVID-19 operation targets empty businesses

VULNERABLE businesses forced to shut their doors during the virus crisis will be the focus of a new police operation designed to curb attempts by criminals looking to exploit the empty stores.

More than 40 businesses in the Cairns area have been targeted by offenders in the past few weeks, often forcing their way inside to steal items.

Far North police Acting Supt Mark Lingwood said while most of this criminal activity had occurred at night, they would increase patrols to industrial estates and shopping precincts at all hours in a bid to stymie incidents.

Senior Constable Chonoea Davey and Constable Xavier May patrol Shields Street on bicycle. PICTURE: BRENDAN RADKE.
Senior Constable Chonoea Davey and Constable Xavier May patrol Shields Street on bicycle. PICTURE: BRENDAN RADKE.

"There is nothing worse than coming back after a night off, or for those whose businesses are closed, and finding they've been broken into," he said. "These are usually more opportunistic than a planned targeting of a certain area.

"We want people to be aware that business as usual is still occurring (by police).

"COVID-19 is our major focus, but we're still conducting our normal operations, we're still out and about and still ensuring community safety. It's a priority."

The amount of property offending dropped significantly in March, compared to January and February. Much of that has been attributed to prolific offenders being in custody.

Originally published as Police keep watch over empty Cairns businesses during virus


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