Queensland’s Gold Coast, which attracts hundreds of thousands of domestic and international visitors each year thanks to miles of sun-kissed beaches and scores of glitzy nightclubs, has seen five shootings in less than two months.
In total three people have died, one of whom was a policeman. The latest incident took place early on Wednesday morning, when Colin Lutherborrow, 36, was shot dead on a Gold Coast street. Last month, senior constable Damian Leeding died after being shot in the face during an armed robbery – one of 60 staged in the region since January.
Organised crime in Australia is usually associated with the seedy underworlds of Sydney and Melbourne. But over the past few years the Gold Coast’s growing reputation as a party town has lured drug dealers, and crime gangs, to the Sunshine State.
The crime wave has lead police to declare that the stretch of coast south of Brisbane had become the country’s crime capital.
Ian Leavers, Queensland Police Union president, said organised crime lords and outlawed motorcycle gangs were behind the violence and that officers were so stretched by the crime spree that they could not take effective action.
“Without doubt the Gold Coast has cemented itself as the crime capital of Australia and unless we get a rapid injection of 100 to 150 staff on the Gold Coast we’re in trouble,” he said.
He warned that it was only a matter of time before innocent bystanders were caught in the crossfire of organised crime.
Community concern over the crime wave prompted Queensland Premier Anna Bligh to announce that a new serious and violent crime squad had been set up to address the situation.
“What is clear is that we have some issues with crime on the Gold Coast that potentially involve gangs and organised crime,” she said.
“The sort of incidents we’re seeing there are completely unacceptable on the streets of a city like the Gold Coast.
“I don’t want its reputation marred by these terrible crimes.”