'Petrified': Women targeted in spate of shopping attacks


A woman was dragged along the ground and another mugged in front of her young daughter during brazen broad daylight robberies.

The two women were among three who were robbed at shopping centres over the weekend by young criminals, who were using a stolen Kia as their getaway car.


Ainslie Burgess was stalked by a group of kids at a shopping centre who stole her wallet straight out of her hands. Picture: Alix Sweeney
Ainslie Burgess was stalked by a group of kids at a shopping centre who stole her wallet straight out of her hands. Picture: Alix Sweeney


Ainslie Burgess, 30, had her wallet stolen from her hands in front of her young daughter, one of three, in under two hours on Sunday, with police now scrambling to catch the thieves before they rob anyone else.

Ms Burgess and her six-year-old daughter were shopping at Kmart in Aitkenvale when she spotted a group of children "casing out" trolleys about 1pm.

The Deeragun mum didn't realise the group had stalked her into the car park until it was too late.

"I heard somebody coming and they just reefed the wallet out of my hand and ran down to a waiting car," she said.

"It was so scary … I just couldn't do anything."

The same stolen getaway car, a silver Kia Cerato, was involved in two other muggings earlier that day, including an incident where a 60-year-old woman was dragged along bitumen, refusing to let go of her handbag.

The group had tried to steal the handbag from off her shoulder, but she didn't give in, and was thrown to the ground and dragged by the offenders.

Townsville District Acting Inspector Graeme Paterson said the woman was "quite shaken" and had cuts on her body.


Acting Inspector Graeme Paterson.
Acting Inspector Graeme Paterson.


Within the hour, the group had moved on to Woolworths at Hermit Park and stole a 30-year-old woman's handbag from her trolley.

All three incidents happened within 90 minutes.

Ms Burgess said although there wasn't much cash in her wallet, she was petrified, and made to fork out money for new cards and a licence.

"I was petrified, you always read about it and think 'you poor people', but never think it's going to happen to you," she said.

Ms Burgess' young daughter also watched the entire ordeal play out in front of her.

"She was beside herself. She's a pretty resilient kid, but she doesn't want to sleep in her own room," she said.

They getaway car was found dumped at West End, but police were still trying to find the offenders, who are known to police.

"They have been identified through various means of CCTV and placing inquiries. (We have been) quite active … to try and find those people" Act Insp Paterson said.

"One of those persons has been actively sought by police for some weeks and actively avoiding detection by police so we're really keen to catch them and hope that we have those matters cleared up quite quickly."


Originally published as 'Petrified': Women targeted in spate of shopping attacks