A Ballarat newsagent says feet dragging on repairs after the Midvale Shopping Centre fire is behind a spate of recent break-ins.
The Ballarat community is rallying behind Midvale’s News Xpress after it was ram-raided at the weekend.
A car plowed through the Mount Clear shopfront in the early hours of Saturday morning – the second attack in a week after the store had been broken into through the back in the early hours of the previous Thursday.
Three personal parcels were stolen in the first robbery while on Saturday the culprits allegedly walked in and stole just a few pairs of sunglasses.
For what would amount to less than $100 of stolen goods, the stores owners say it will take a couple of thousand dollars to replace the front of the shop.
Owner Brian McKinnis says the shopping centre hasn’t been the same since January’s arson attack on a tobacco store, and it’s putting all the shops at risk.
“The place looks derelict…the whole shopping centre.” McKinnis said.
He blames the centre’s appearance on delays caused by council, with a new roof desparately required to repair damage caused by the fire.
McKinnis says it’s taken 9 months to get a building permit for the new roof.
At the time of the January fire, the newsagency lost $100,000 in stock, then at Easter post office boxes were rammed causing another $50,000 loss.
McKinnis adds that when workers at Stewart’s Bakery were in the centre at 2am it provided security, but since it and another business were destroyed in the blaze it’s left others vulnerable to out of hours crime.
“Obviously bakers start early, there was a 24 hour gym. It provided security. But now there’s no security, lighting or anything because that all got taken out with the fire…and electrical damage. So there’s nothing here.
It’s just begging to be damaged. I thought back in January people would target (the centre), but I didn’t think it would take this long to be fixed.” McKinnis said.
He said the community has been “fabulous” in helping the shop stay on its feet.
Cries have gone out on social media for locals to get into the shop to support it and its associated fashion business.
Image: Laura Feldman Facebook