Residents and shopkeepers on a vibrant, multicultural Shepparton road are scared to be on the street after sunset.
St Georges Rd residents and business owners say a group of young vandals continue to terrorise the street, scaring away business and making people sell up and move away.
A drive down St Georges Rd reveals why. Rubbish is scattered all over the street, fences have been kicked in and windows smashed.
Our neighbourhoods are supposed to be where we enjoy living, where we feel comfortable and safe.
In the case of Shepparton’s St Georges Rd, it was renowned as one of the city’s most vibrant and multicultural areas, a place where people loved to live, shop and socialise.
But more recently, vandalism that has included damage to shopfronts and cars has meant vibrancy is waning and in its place there is discomfort and in some instances, fear, on the part of those who live and visit the area.
That’s not right.
One business owner says he now has plans to sell his shop, frustrated by rising costs associated with having to fix and replace those items damaged by the vandals.
He fears rising insurance premiums will force others to leave.
A long-term resident of St Georges Rd has praised the area as a wonderful place to live, where businesses have previously prospered and people have been friendly towards one another.
Now he says there has been a major change and despite the best efforts of police and residents in reporting the crime, the decline has been obvious.
The resident has gone so far as installing security cameras at his house, but while they have improved his feeling of safety, they also mean he now feels like a prisoner in his own home.
Speaking out often raises the fear of retribution, but this resident and business owner should be congratulated for raising the issue and hopefully, encouraging others who see vandals doing the wrong thing to report the incidents.
It is only a matter of time before the police get a handle on this situation and hopefully sooner, rather than later, St Georges Rd can be returned to the vibrant neighbourhood that is known and loved.