FORTY-SEVEN people were charged with a range of offences over the Tamworth Country Music Festival but one thief who got away really rubbed police up the wrong way.
While bike police were investigating a brawl at the Brisbane St taxi rank on Australia Day a thief stole one of their bikes and took off.
They didn’t find him but they eventually found the busted bike.
It was one of a number of disappointing elements to the festival scorecard for police, who reported another 138 infringement notices handed out,
ranging from speeding to offensive conduct and move-on directions from police.
Troublemakers were a headache – and according to police Acting Inspector James Parsons, it was mainly locals to blame.
Tamworth police yesterday presented their post mortem figures on the festival bad blokes, silly people and crooks that ranged from minor theft and street offences through to assault and drug supply.
Overall, they regarded the behaviour of festival crowds as pretty good and say they were impressed.
The 47 people charged were accused of 76 offences.
There were 17 drugs charges laid, 13 of assault, and 12 property offences, including stealing and break and enters.
Acting Inspector Parsons said police contended with a minority of trouble makers.
“As with any large event, there were a few who seemed intent on spoiling the festival experience for everyone, and certainly a tendency for local people to bring themselves under the notice of police more than visitors,” Acting Inspector Parsons said.
“Fortunately this has been largely overshadowed by the generally good behaviour of crowds and more positive interactions between police and the public.”
The police bike was stolen by a unidentified man while officers attended a brawl at the Brisbane St taxi rank in the early hours of Australia Day.
While officers intervened and dealt with the offenders, a male jumped on one bike and rode off down Bridge St.
A police search later found the damaged bicycle near a tent in Riverside Park campgrounds.
Acting Inspector Parsons said they believed the offender had fallen off the bicycle, damaging it beyond repair.
“Police recognise it was an isolated incident but are disappointed by such loutish behaviour,” he said.
Street offences ranging from offensive conduct and failure to comply with police direction accounted for 13 charges and five traffic offences were recorded.
Just one licensing offence was noted, while four people were arrested on outstanding warrants.
Operation Safe Return ran concurrently with the final weekend of the festival with traffic and highway patrol officers conducting 863 random breath tests and also 100 drug tests.
Together with Operation Tungsten, the Australia Day road operation netted 17 drink drivers across the Oxley Local Area Command.
This year’s festival saw 250 extra police called in, mostly from regional areas, to handle crowds under Operation Tungsten.
General-duties police joined specialist officers from the Mounted Unit – NSW Police Force, Bicycle Unit, Operational Support Group, Police Dog Unit – NSW Police Force, Aboriginal liaison officers and Traffic and Highway Patrol Command on patrol during the festival.