by KIERAN BANKS, Crime reporter, NT News
ORGANISED youth gangs with an average age of 10 are driving skyrocketing break-in rates led by "thrillseeking" juveniles fuelled by meth, according to Territory police commissioner Reece Kershaw.
Police plan to bolster Darwin's frontline cops as the youth crime wave continues to take its toll on the community.
Mr Kershaw said in one case, officers came into contact with the four-year-old relative of juvenile offender during an investigation into a crime spree.
The April crime statistics revealed a 54 per cent spike in Darwin house break-ins and 52 per cent in Palmerston.
Darwin commercial break-ins also increased by 90 per cent.
In a bid to address the already stretched Darwin resources, Mr Kershaw said a recruit squad of 30 officers would be deployed in the capital to refresh the front lines.
"Part of that would be to refresh our frontline. Historically we've always looked after the bush and it's been a good basis for our recruits," he said.
Mr Kershaw said meth remained a problem with Darwin's youth.
"They plan these things to. It's not necessarily random with some of these groups. They are almost becoming mini-organised crime in some of these groups.
"Some of the break-ins were finding in the commercial premises is literally as a high for them. Even though while alcohol is getting stolen it's not the primary factor."
Mr Kershaw said Darwin-based police were called upon to back up cops in communities like Bathurst Island and in the recent riots at Wadeye.
Currently, the NT Police force had dropped from 1412 to 1400 from the same time last year.
He said the target to recruit 120 police over four years, an increase of 8.5 per cent, was considerably less than other forces.
The Victoria Government plan to boost its force by 20 per cent by recruiting 2800 cops in four years.
Chief Minister Michael Gunner said per capita NT Police has more frontline cops than the national average.
"In the NT, police employ 708 operational staff per 100,000 people compared to the national average of 269 operational staff per 100,000 people," he said.
"Meeting this recruitment target will enable police to increase the capacity of operations that target crime, such as Taskforce Wynx in Alice Springs or Taskforce Sonoma."