Fighting back against crime: Mandurah retail employees speak out on safety fears

A group of Greenfields shop owners say they are scared for their safety due to consistent crime, with two break-ins over the last fortnight and staff being attacked by an offender armed with a machete late last year.

The small businesses are also "struggling to stay afloat" due to exorbitant damage bills after a recent spate of burglaries.

The most-serious incident occurred on November 1, 2018.

A Greenfields deli worker was sorting stock on the floor, before her face was slashed by a youth wielding a machete in an unprovoked attack.

Another female employee was stabbed in her shoulder with the blunt end of the weapon, according to police.

The three young offenders, two of whom were children, left with cigarettes.

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One year earlier on October 15, 2017, a female deli worker at a separate Greenfields store was assaulted.

The November incident at Murdoch Drive Continental Super Deli and the prevalence of anti-social behaviour has prompted retail workers to speak out about their safety fears, with one employee saying he wants to purchase a gun for protection.

In February, Mandurah Detective Senior Sergeant Trevor Troy labelled Greenfields a "hot spot" for serious offences.

Both Green Ocean restaurant and Lenny's Family Butcher at the Murdoch Drive Shopping Centre have been broken into twice in the past two weeks, the latest incident taking place on Sunday night.

In each case, the offenders only took petty cash but caused costly damage bills.

Scared to go to work

Employees are taking extraordinary measures to ensure their safety, with Green Ocean staff members Penny and Ricky Foo locking the restaurant doors after sunset - with customers still inside.

"We are open for business but lock the doors - we wouldn't dare leave the door open," Mr Foo said.

"It's so unsafe. You see so many people with hoods over their heads."

Ms Foo said she was traumatised after witnessing the November assault.

"If no-one helped them, they would have died," she said. "The lady was bleeding - I got the towel. I am very scared."

There's nothing we can do. That's the saddest part.

Murdoch Drive Continental Super Deli manager Li Li

Murdoch Drive Continental Super Deli manager Li Li said his colleague was injured "very badly" in the machete attack and had to undergo facial surgery.

"This area is very bad now - it is not safe at all," he said.

"I need a gun to protect myself."

Mr Li said theft occurred on a "daily basis", but they couldn't do anything about it.

"Anyone can come in and grab anything - it's free," he said.

"We report a number of times - it's a waste of time. There's nothing we can do. That's the saddest part.

"We try and protect our property but the law won't allow us to do anything."

'The good guy loses'

Mr Li said employees will stand at the door to stop offenders leaving with items, but "they don't care, they push past".

"They say 'you cannot touch me'," he said.

"What are the politicians and the police doing?

"People are doing these robberies and armed robberies and they get away with it.

"We are losing at least $10,000 a year and struggling to pay staff.

"The good guy loses."

Lenny's Family Butcher employee Matt Marshall said he arrived on Monday morning to the back and front door of the shop wide open.

(Owner) Lenny works seven days a week and yesterday he worked for nothing because of all these bills.

Lenny's Butcher employee Matt Marshall

"They've thrown limestone boulders at the shop, but this time they've smashed the locks out," he said.

"It's about $800 a pop for each window, whenever it happens.

"The smashed glass went through all the stock last time, which we had to throw out and they threw stock on the floor. We lost about $10,000 from that alone.

"There's nothing police can do about it really because they wear gloves and hoodies."

Mr Marshall said he made sure to lock the doors when he was working alone at odd hours.

"We get customers who ring us from the car park and say they are too scared to get out of the car," he said.

Mr Marshall said the family-owned business was just making ends meet due to the damage bills.

"(Owner) Lenny works seven days a week and yesterday he worked for nothing because of all these bills," he said.

"He has to put more money in to keep it afloat, but we're struggling as it is."

Police responding to the incidents

Mandurah Police Senior Sergeant Darren Hart said police and detectives worked together to charge offenders.

"Police respond to all burglary offences by conducting an examination of the scene of the burglary, checking CCTV footage, speaking to witnesses and where appropriate conducting a forensic examination," he said

"Where further avenues of investigation are identified the investigations are handed over to the Mandurah detectives office for follow up.

"The burglary offences are serious but deliberately committed when no one is at the premises. The other matters involving injury are more serious and both resulted in swift arrests."

As frustrating as it may be, your safety is worth more than anything that may be stolen and police can investigate using the information provided by witnesses.

Mandurah Police Senior Sergeant Darren Hart

No-one has been charged for the burglary offences to date.

Senior Sergeant Hart said business owners have the right to refuse entry to any person.

"If someone has stolen from the business previously or been involved in anti-social behaviour, the business owner is within their rights to refuse entry or ask them to leave," he said. "If the person refuses to comply, police can be called to assist.

"Every person has a right to use reasonable force to defend themselves against attack but WA Police urge people to consider their own safety and that of others who may be present before taking any action that may put them at risk.

"As frustrating as it may be, your safety is worth more than anything that may be stolen and police can investigate using the information provided by witnesses.

"If there is an incident outside a business such as someone being disorderly or behaving in an anti-social manner, business owners can call police. All calls to police are prioritised so it's important to remember that if a situation is escalating a further call should be made to properly advise police of the current situation."