THEY’VE been broken into three times in three months, had their tip jar stolen and statues simply picked up and taken away by sticky-fingered grubs, but Milano’s On The Lake owner Claire Rampling is undeterred and has a message for Lake Macquarie’s young crooks – look out.
The businesswoman and her husband have been staggered by the amount of property crime near their Pelican business, but have been buoyed by the attitude of local police and the support of neighbouring businesses.
As well as having about $110 stolen from a tip jar by a 13-year-old boy, the business lost a lawnmower, whipper snipper and other items when a shipping container was broken into four weeks ago. Statues and other display items were picked up and taken away by a group of four people two weeks ago, and a neighbouring business recently had a kayak stolen and walked all the way to Marks Point to retrieve it.
Ms Rampling’s security cameras have caught some of the offenders in the act, but she is now installing more to cover all of her premises.
‘‘I just couldn’t believe this when [the thefts] happened and kept happening,’’ she said.
‘‘It’s about time people in the area said, ‘No, we’re not going to put up with this’.’’
The police had been ‘‘fantastic’’, but Ms Rampling said it was obvious they did not have the resources or in some cases the powers to prosecute.
On one occasion, she and her husband chased down a 13-year-old boy who snatched a handful of cash from the tip jar.
They were able to get most of the money back and the boy was cautioned under the Young Offenders Act.
Police later informed Ms Rampling that the boy re-offended and was charged.
‘‘Talking to other people it appears it could be the one group of people doing this.’’
‘‘We’ve got them now on CCTV. We can clearly see these people’s faces,’’ she said.
‘‘Once we get more cameras in we’ll have the whole premises covered.’’
Anyone with information can call the Police Assistance Line on 131444.