One boy crime wave in Australia
' Vandal, 15, holds town to ransom' (The Courier-Mail, 7/3/2010)

RESIDENTS of a small Queensland; town say a 15-year-old boy, addicted to paint-sniffing and marijuana, has them living in fear.

Police in Mt Morgan, near Rockhampton, have arrested the boy more than 30 times in the past three years for vandalism offences. Despite repeated attempts by authorities to curb his behaviour, nothing is working. Businesses targeted in his random crime sprees fear his crimes could become more serious.

"Police arrest him, lock him up for the night and then the next morning they release him," said a local business owner, who asked not to be named. "Then he goes straight back and does the same things again. We've had our window smashed, but that's only minor compared with what I think he will end up doing one day, because he's trapped in this terrible cycle."

Mirani MP and Opposition spokesman for' Emergency Services Ted Malone has worked with the community and authorities to try to stop the boy's repeat offending.

But the lack, of youth services and employment opportunities make it extremely difficult to help young people in trouble. "This boy has slipped through the cracks ... but the system just doesn't seem to be able to help him," Mr Malone said.

The Department of Communities declined to comment on the boy's case because of privacy laws.