Teen vandals trashing Daniel Morcombe’s legacy
HEARTLESS and brazen Cairns youth offenders are exploiting a law brought in after the infamous kidnap and murder of a Sunshine Coast teenager.
Senior police said groups of up to 12 youths had been demanding free rides from Sunbus drivers, predominantly from southern suburbs into the Cairns CBD at night, as part of the "no child left behind" rule while also ripping apart bus seats and adorning interiors with graffiti.
They said about 10 buses per day were currently being targeted. Sunbus and Cairns police have joined forces to tackle the problem.
Daniel Morcombe's father Bruce is lending his support.
He called the youths involved "smart alecs" who were "tarnishing the system" for someone who genuinely needed it.
Mr Morcombe said the policy was aimed at those who might have forgotten or lost their bus money or could not afford it and would otherwise be abandoned.
"(Wife) Denise and I do not support anybody who is abusing the system," he said.
"Once the abuse starts it grows and gathers momentum and we need to stop the momentum.
"They are tarnishing the system for what may be a very vulnerable kid.
"And the bus companies still have to earn money, they have to be a profitable business."
The police blitz was being run as part of Operation Romeo Paso which had been focused on CBD crime for the past six weeks.
Operation boss Acting Inspector Gary Hunter said uniformed and undercover police would ride the buses and identify culprits.
"We will be working to prevent this abhorrent behaviour and target those who are responsible for the damage," he said.
"We are aware large groups of young people are exploiting this policy.
"They are boarding the buses in large groups and travelling into the CBD with an expectation they don't have to pay.
"The drivers are in a difficult situation where they feel obliged to transport these groups."
Police said schools would be contacted in the areas the buses were coming from.
Anyone identifying damage to a bus is asked to inform the driver or contact Police Link on 131 444.