Townsville’s disturbing youth crime shift – Random arson attacks on the rise

Hinchinbrook MP and KAP Deputy Leader, Nick Dametto MP.

9 January 2024

In a disconcerting shift, the landscape of youth crime in Townsville has morphed into a new pattern, with youths now targeting random cars and houses with arson attacks.

In recent days, several cars have been torched as well as residence in Annandale, all allegedly at the hands of youth criminals. The vehicles were not reported stolen before being torched which is a departure from the ‘traditional’ youth crime method of stealing and joy riding before destroying all evidence by fire.

This alarming development comes on the heels of a tumultuous 2023, where the nature and severity of youth crime constantly twisted and turned, ranging from break-ins and car thefts to violent and armed robberies, and even carjackings.

In December last year, Hinchinbrook MP and Katter’s Australian Party (KAP) Deputy Leader, Nick Dametto wrote to the Police Minister seeking assurance that a Christmas crime plan was in place for the Townsville region over the holiday season.

Mr Dametto said that at the time, the Police Minister made claims of extensive planning and preparation aimed at combatting youth crime over the Christmas and New Year period however it was also claimed that those methodologies could not be revealed.

“Unfortunately, the Townsville community is not seeing any reprieve from the impacts of youth crime so far this year and now it seems that any car parked on the street, or any house they can access is fair game for an arson attack,” he said.

“These young criminal gangs appear to always be one step ahead of police, making it increasingly difficult for police to predict and intercept. The members of our Queensland Police Service are doing the best they can in trying circumstances and we have seen some impressive footage in recent days of our blue heroes apprehending certain suspects.

“But yet again, the revolving courtroom doors aided by Queensland’s weak youth justice laws, are failing the community.

“If the current legislation is incapable of keeping these recidivist youth offenders off the streets, I don’t understand why the State Labor Government won’t urgently consider a trial of KAP’s Relocation Sentencing policy that would see these criminals removed from the community for a period of six to twelve months and extensively rehabilitated out bush, away from the negative influences of the city.

“As we head into an election year, the time has come for the newly appointed Premier, Steven Miles, to take decisive measures to protect the community and address the root causes of youth crime if Labor stands any chance of retaining Government in October.

“I’ve never seen anyone break into a house or steal a vehicle from behind bars. At the same time, children can’t be expected to thrive behind bars which is why KAP’s Relocation Sentencing policy strikes the perfect balance between protecting the community and rehabilitating young offenders.

“This year, youth crime will remain one of KAP’s top priorities, and I, along with my colleagues will continue to be the voice for the north at every opportunity we get during parliament in Brisbane.”


Nick Dametto MP