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Queensland city where locals are taking the law into their own hands

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A senior policeman has voiced concern that Townsville residents might be trying to pursue car thieves themselves in a vigilante-style campaign.

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Police say they are investigating whether a member of the public had been following several stolen cars that crashed in Townsville early on Monday morning.

Three cars that had been stolen during various burglaries and another car, driven by a member of the public, collided close to the Kirwan Police Station at 2:30am on Monday.

Chief Superintendent Craig Hanlon said the investigation was in the early stages but he would not rule out vigilantism.

“The other car was a member of a public driving along, that’ll form part of the investigation,” he said.

“I’m very concerned when people decide to take action under their own hands because that’s what we’re here to do.”

Hanlon said another car picked up the offenders.

“We’re looking for about five or six offenders [but] we don’t know their ages,” he said.

A woman who lives near where the cars crashed said she saw the occupants of the stolen vehicles damaging the other car before they fled in another stolen car.

“I just woke up to a screeching car sound and then I heard the bang of where they crashed,” she said.

“[I saw] these teenagers, there was about three of four … and they were just stomping all over the car, kicking in the windscreen and bashing into the windows.”

Station unmanned at the time

The witness said the driver and passenger were inside the car at the time and she heard them screaming.

“They were on the phone to the police … and then they ran over to the police station looking for help and there was no help for them, no coppers there at all,” she said.

“It was quite distressing to hear they had no help when they got over to that police station.

“I just keep telling my family it’s not safe to be driving out on the street late at night because at any time they could be all trying to play a game with you or run into you.”

Hanlon said the police station — which is about 100 metres away — was unmanned at the time of the crash and officers arrived afterwards.

“You may not always have a police officer in a station, because that crew is out on the roads in the public making sure that we are responding to calls for service or providing a proactive response,” he said.

Man and teen assaulted

Townsville police are also investigating the assault of a man in his 60s and a 16-year-old boy outside a Kirwan shopping centre on Sunday afternoon.

Part of the incident was captured on video.

Police said the man and teenager were beaten with a baseball bat during the group attack just after 4:00pm.

The two victims were treated for minor injuries at the Townsville University Hospital.

– ABC / Chloe Chomicki

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