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A GRANDFATHER who has taken to arming himself with a baseball bat and conducting all-night vigils to defend his Coledale home from attack has likened life in the suburb to that of a war zone.
The resident, who did not wish to be named for fear of jeopardising his family’s safety, said violence and other anti-social activities such as vandalism and drug dealing were spiralling out of control in West Tamworth.
Having only moved to the city earlier in the year to get his young grandchildren away from the dangers of Sydney’s volatile western suburbs, the man said he was astonished at the lawlessness he had witnessed.
“It’s shocking,” he said. “It’s absolutely shocking. We don’t sleep anymore because we’ve got someone on guard all night, every night.
“We’ve got baseball bats at the front door and pick handles at the back door. We’re in Australia, we shouldn’t have to live like that.
“We moved out of western Sydney to the country so we could feel a bit safer and not have to worry about all the stuff that goes on down there like bikie wars and home invasions.
“But this is not a nice place to be. It’s worse than Mount Druitt.”
The man, who claims to live in the immediate vicinity of at least three drug dealers who peddle – among other drugs – so-called “hillbilly heroin”, said there needed to be more high-visibility policing during peak times of unrest.
“The anti-social behaviour that goes on of a night – particularly Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights – is unbelievable,” he said.
“These people seem to think that they can do what they like. I’m dumbfounded that things like this are going on.
“But the only police you see during the day are there for revenue-raising type things like pulling people over for speeding or not having their P-plates on.
“During the night, you’re lucky to see a police officer.”
Oxley Local Area Command acting-inspector Geoff Sharpe was quick to reassure the public that dedicated patrol units were a regular presence in the area at all times of the day and night.
He also said that police were working closely with a number of government and community organisations to reduce crime in Coledale.
“We respond to calls of anti-social behaviour as quickly as possible, whether it be in Coledale or any other part of Tamworth,” he said.
“We have a number of known persons in and around the Coledale area who we know cause trouble and our car crews are tasked to keep an eye on those people.”
Last month The Leader revealed fire crews had been called out to West Tamworth 29 times in just 50 days to fight deliberately lit fires, while a recent rock-throwing incident had the community on edge.
Coledale Residents’ Association secretary Annette Marshall said there was little doubt that the suburb’s law-abiding citizens were feeling more vulnerable than ever.
“Over the last year or so it’s been getting worse,” she said. “There is a lot of trouble over at Coledale of a night.
“I hold bingo for the people of Coledale on a Thursday night to try and get the oldies out of their units for a while so they can have a chit-chat and a cup of tea,” she said.
“But most of them won’t come because they’re terrified of coming out of their units.”