Vandals targeting Tamworth takeaway shop

THE two large plate-glass windows at the front of TC's Takeaway on Goonoo Goonoo Rd remain cracked, 12 months after they were vandalised by young men.

The shop's owner, Peter Balsar, says after already having replaced the windows three times at a cost of $1200 each, they can remain as they are.

"What's the point? They will only get broken again," Mr Balsar said.

The 60-year-old, who runs the takeaway store seven days a week with his daughter, Amanda, and son Jason, now carries a panic button around with him to call security, after what he says is a constant campaign of vandalism, thefts and break-ins during his 17 years running the store.

In 2009 he spent more than two months in hospital after he was severely beaten by thieves who broke into the shop. He said he had invested in the security button after two previous bashings outside the shop.

The front counter of the shop can be seen by a security camera. Staff can use the camera, which is linked with a TV, to see outside the store.

Recently installed cameras now record footage 24/7 inside the kitchen and front counter areas.

"I do get frightened working here on my own, even during the day," a 23-year-old female staff member, who wished to remain anonymous, said.

"It's heartbreaking the amount of crime that happens here, and you just know it's the customers you're serving every day.

"You can see people actually stealing in front of you and you can't say anything, or you'll get a brick through the window. We're just trying to run a business."

In the latest incident, the young woman was working in the kitchen at 8pm on Wednesday when she heard a loud noise. Looking outside the door, she saw three young men running down the street, leaving behind a broken window on the business's van.

"I don't know what they used to break it. I looked for blood on the ground," Mr Balsar said. He said it was just another crime to add to the many his business has endured.

He sleeps on the premises at night to try to prevent further occurrences.

"I own a brand new house, but I haven't slept there a night. I live here now, because there is so much trouble. If I go home, they are going to break in or burn it down," he said.

Mr Balsar said windows were broken, lights smashed, graffiti sprayed and fences kicked in on a regular basis.

"I take down the fence panels every time they kick one in, and put it out the back," he said.

There are just four panels remaining of the original 15.

Mr Balsar said his daughter asked him recently, "When's it going to be enough, dad?"

"It's my family business: I love it, working here and talking to customers all day," he said.

"What are you supposed to do retire over idiots?"

He now closes at 10pm every day and checks outside the store for potential troublemakers before he locks the front door.

"I look outside first and then hurry back to lock the door. That's where they wait for you," he said.

Tamworth police are investigating the latest incident, including reviewing CCTV footage recorded on the night, but Mr Balsor said he did not expect much to happen.

"The police can't be everywhere in town there's not enough of them to go around and they are already too busy," he said.

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