The town that crime forgot

Gabrielle Knowles Chief Crime ReporterThe West Australian

Fear of crime is not something you find much of in Bruce Rock.

Since Acting Sgt Raba'ah Safrain started in the Wheatbelt town 10 months ago, there has not been a home burglary, car theft or robbery.

But the town's two police officers still remind residents to keep their doors and windows locked.

"Even though it is a safe town, we must not rest on our laurels," Acting Sgt Safrain said.

Phil and Angie Skipsey have lived in Bruce Rock for more than 20 years after winning a free housing block in a council-run lottery to attract residents.

"We didn't know where it was but as soon as we drove in, it just clicked," Mr Skipsey, 65, said.

"Bruce Rock is a quiet and very safe place, which is important to me. When you watch the news, it always seems someone has been robbed or bashed."

The Shire of Bruce Rock's 1100 residents are celebrating its centenary this year.

The one-pub town, known for playing music from its amphitheatre on the main street, is surrounded by farms about 255km east of Perth.

Since January 2009, police have recorded 12 home burglaries, 18 other break-ins, seven car thefts, 34 assaults and a graffiti offence.

So far this year, the roadhouse has been burgled three times and police have investigated four assaults, all allegedly linked to a dispute between the same families in an area outside town.

Shire chief executive Darren Mollenoyux believes Bruce Rock has little crime because it is a small community, residents are vigilant about reporting anything suspicious and most people are employed.

"I also think people care about the community and we have good facilities - we've created a positive environment," he said.

As retired music teacher Cec Aurisch watches local youngsters playing cricket in her quiet street, which backs on to the school, she says people keep an eye out for each other.

The grandmother was born and bred in the area and admits she does not know anything else, and would not have it any other way.

But many in the area are doing it tough after droughts caused some lean years for farmers, meaning less money flowing to local businesses.

Residents try to spend what money they can in Bruce Rock.

Mr Mollenoyux said the council was trying to develop other sources of income - including tourism and aged care - so the town was not so reliant on farming.

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