"INCREDIBLY dangerous" situations are unfolding across Tamworth day and night, leaving the community rattled and police at their wits' end.
"Don't think police aren't trying, they are giving it their absolute all ... this is our home too," Tamworth's police association (PANSW) branch chair Brian Pegus told the Leader.
The police union is battling for more boots to hit the ground before someone gets seriously hurt, as officers work around the clock to combat Tamworth property crime.
It's an issue that's gone from bad to worse, and Tamworth PANSW administrator Josh McKenzie said he fears crime will hit endemic levels if a commitment isn't made soon.
"It's frustrating because we do want to have that impact, we do want to protect our community, and we want the resources to be able to do it properly," he said.
A campaign has fired up to bolster blue uniforms in the Oxley Police District's ranks by at least eight extra officers, particularly in the proactive crime team (PCT).
The specialist, covert squad can dedicate hours on end to targeting suspected offenders, patrolling hotspots and acting on intelligence.
"That's the immediate priority because we need to be able to address the immediate crime situation here in Tamworth," Mr McKenzie said.
The Leader can reveal that in February alone, upwards of 60 cars were stolen in Tamworth, more than 100 break-ins were reported and Operation Southbreak - the police operation targeting property crime - made 22 arrests.
"I don't know how many people in Tamworth genuinely feel safe in their homes at the moment," he said.
The Oxley Police District expanded to cover more ground in 2017, but the front line was stretched even thinner when no new PCT positions opened up.
It has left just half-a-dozen dedicated PCT officers covering an area from Walcha to Wee Waa, Willow Tree to Narrabri.
A year later, the state government announced a whopping allocation of 1500 extra police across the state, the last 550 of which are expected to be deployed to new posts this year and next.
Mr McKenzie said the city needs definitive action - a commitment to support police to protect the community.
I don't know how many people in Tamworth genuinely feel safe in their homes at the moment.- Josh McKenzie, PANSW
Mr Pegus told the Leader the local PCT squad is drastically under-resourced compared to its neighbours in the New England and Orana Mid-Western districts.
In the last week alone in Tamworth, five teenagers were arrested after a sweeping search of a riverbank at dawn, and a boy as young as 13 was charged with leading police on a chase in a stolen car.
That same night, firearms were stolen from a South Tamworth home by unknown offenders and a couple of days later, a home invasion terrorised a family when a shot was fired. Police have not ruled out a link between them.
The sound of sirens has become Tamworth's alarm clock.
It's a situation that's becoming "incredibly dangerous", Mr Pegus said.
He warned that if PCT numbers are not bolstered in the upcoming allocation, "this is going to be the new norm", with peaks and falls.
"That makes me angry and it makes every police officer in Tamworth angry," he said.
Mr Pegus said nine new positions had been created in Tamworth in the last two years, but that had only bumped general duties officer numbers to an adequate level.
Don't think police aren't trying, they are giving it their absolute all ... this is our home too.- Brian Pegus, PANSW
He said he had put his concerns on paper in a letter to NSW Police Minister Paul Toole back in January.
Tamworth MP Kevin Anderson said he too had written to Mr Toole and had been "chewing his ear" about ensuring Oxley got its "fair share" when the allocation is announced later this year.
Mr Anderson stopped short of making promises, but said he had been in contact with the Tamworth PANSW and the NSW Police western region commander.
A spokesperson for Mr Toole said in a statement that NSW Police will determine allocations based on resource requirements.
The spokesperson said police, Mr Anderson and the Tamworth PANSW regularly discuss problems and possible solutions.
A statement from NSW Police said resourcing is "flexible" in the district depending on crime trends, to ensure the most appropriate allocation of police, reduce violence and prevent crime.
"Local police will continue with preventative policing strategies, along with other community engagement activities which prove to play a significant role in reducing crime," the statement said.
Our journalists work hard to provide local, up-to-date news to the community. This is how you can continue to access our trusted content: