By Mandy Oakham
Behaviour is worsening in Geelong’s troubled city mall, according to traders.
They spoke out this week after police posted on Facebook images of four young men who were wanted over a violent, roaming brawl in the city centre.
“Yes, the problem is getting worse but, at the end of the day, we’re talking about a bunch of kids,” said one of the traders, none of whom wanted to be identified for fear of retaliation by people frequenting the mall.
“It’s not rocket science, here. There must be a way of dealing with these kids.
“For God’s sake, it all settles down after 4pm because they go home for their tea.
“Yes, they came in here all the time and try to steal stuff and sometimes they yell at people but, really, we get to know them and we talk to them and we deal with them. It’s not as if they are walking in here with machine guns.”
Another trader said two young people fell into his shop wrestling with each other during a recent brawl.
“The only damage they were doing was to each other and there were no weapons involved. These are kids who aren’t getting educated and they are just getting themselves into trouble.”
Another retailer said distinguishing between problems with “kids” and other people suffering genuine mental health issues was important.
“It’s normally pretty easy to identify the people who have real mental health issues and as long as you treat them with a bit of care and respect, they normally don’t give any trouble,” she said.
“What really breaks my heart is when you see little kids coming in and trying to steal stuff to take outside to their mothers who are sitting outside wearing new Nikes on their feet and doing drugs.”
A trader said she had first-hand experience of a successful police booth when she worked for many years in Footscray’s mall.
“It was so successful that eventually they took it away,” she said.
“We need to have something happening here that will draw different kinds of people into the area and then the kids will just move off.”
Police this week released images of the four men wanted for questioning over the brawl around 5.30pm on 18 July.
Investigators were told a group of three males initially approached four males and two females in Lt Malop St, Victoria Police said.
Two of the males from the second group then became involved in an altercation with the three men.
The two groups separated before meeting again soon after near Ryrie St.
“They became involved in another scuffle inside the centre before again parting ways,” police said.
“The two groups of males came across each other a third time near another exit, where it is believed one of the males from the second group produced a knife from a backpack. No injuries were reported.”
Police believed the males involved were known to each other.
Police asked anyone with information to phone Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.