Locals inhabiting the same leafy suburb as Bec Judd say her claims of a crime wave are not far off the mark.
While the ex-footy WAG has been backed by reality TV friend, My Kitchen Rules star Zana Pali, Daily Mail Australia hit the ‘mean streets’ of Brighton, Melbourne’s fourth wealthiest suburb, to check if others agreed.
Daily Mail Australia spoke to a mix of residents and shopkeepers along Brighton’s main strip, which is littered with well-to-do cafes, boutiques and restaurants.
And the verdict?
Not one said they were now afraid to walk Brighton’s tree-lined streets, but nearly everyone was aware of the reports of an increase in crime – inspired by Judd and co.
Bec Judd (pictured) kickstarted a celebrity-led campaign against escalating violent crime making her suburb unsafe
The main strip of Brighton has been hit by opportunistic thieves in recent times
Scared: ‘So sick of the rapes, bashings and home invasions at the hands of the gangs in Bayside,’ Bec Judd wrote to Instagram
One shopkeeper, who did not wish to be named, said her salon had been targeted numerous times by opportunistic thieves in recent times.
Attacking in the dead of night, the crooks had smashed their way into the Church Street shop and helped themselves to whatever they wanted.
So concerned about the thefts, iron bars have now been erected outside, caging the shop in when the sun sets.
‘It’s a smash and grab thing. They smash our window, they grab whatever they want and they run away,’ the female shop owner said.
‘During the two years of Covid, it didn’t happen because police were patrolling the area … but as soon as everything unlocked then we got broken into twice in a month.’
While the bars outside the salon would not look out of place in most retail outlets west of the city, here, they are an anomaly.
‘At least now I can sleep at night,’ the shop owner said.
It is a similar story along the strip of shops, where at least two others businesses have recently fallen victim to repeated opportunistic smash and grabs.
Up the road, crowded around a popular coffee shop, two Brighton locals tell Daily Mail Australia they too are aware of a spate of ugly incidents.
Home invasions and car thefts are offences not overly familiar on home soil in these parts.
Brighton shop manager Lyla (left) said she noticed anything out of the ordinary in Brighton while Nicola and Johanna (right) said they felt safe there
Former My Kitchen Rules star Zana Pali weighed in to supper her friend Bec Judd after buying a plot of land in Brighton, Melbourne’s fourth wealthiest suburb, last September
They don’t call it ‘leafy Brighton’ for nothing. Residents in the well-to-do suburb (pictured) fear a crime wave is afoot
‘We’ve heard about car thefts just around the corner here,’ they said, gesturing toward another well presented street.
Sitting on the cold footpath desperately trying to keep warm, Ronnie had only a few coins in his paper cup.
The homeless man has spent the best part of three years living on and about the streets of Brighton, where people tend to be more generous, he said.
Homeless man Ronnie has called the streets of Brighton home for years. He said he continues to feels safe there
Crime wave: Cabbie inspectors checking out a vehicle was the only sniff of a crime possibly occurring in Brighton on Tuesday
BEC JUDD’S CAMPAIGN TO END BRIGHTON CRIMEWAVE
Judd last week claimed the state government didn’t ‘seem to care’ about the ‘rapes, bashings and home invasions at the hands of the gangs in Bayside’.
‘I personally know two women who have experienced home invasions in Brighton in the last few weeks while they were at home,’ she wrote on Instagram last week.
She reposted CCTV footage of a group of young men lurking outside properties in her affluent suburb and claimed it made her feel ‘unsafe’.
The teenagers, who were allegedly armed with knives, were filmed lurking outside several properties in the Bayside area before crashing a stolen BMW into a tree.
Pali jumped to the defence of her fellow social media star and said the backlash Judd received for her comments was unfair.
While some locals told Daily Mail Australia they associated the reported influx in crime with a return to the streets of Melbourne’s homeless, Ronnie said he had never felt safer getting about Brighton.
‘We started coming out here when they tossed us out of the CBD during Covid,’ Ronnie said.
‘People out here are just amazing. They are beautiful people out here and we get a lot of help. ‘
Ronnie said he had not seen a single crime committed since returning to Brighton post Covid.
‘I have seen absolutely nothing. I mean you go into Coles and there is no security guard in there. You go to Woolworths and it’s the same there. So I’d hate to think that crime is coming to Brighton because it’s always been so safe,’ he said.
It is a view shared by Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews, who on Sunday said that he was ‘not interested in having an argument with Ms Judd’ over Brighton’s crime issues.
‘I’m also obliged to point out though, I think there are more than 70 additional police in the Bayside area, and the most recent crime statistics released by an independent agency would not support those sweeping assessments about patterns of crime,’ Mr Andrews said.
‘I say this respectfully to Bec Judd, or anybody – I don’t want anybody to feel unsafe,’ he said. ‘I’m sorry she feels that way. The data would tell a different story, but it is about personal feelings and your sense of safety.’
Zani Pali – a Melbourne lawyer (pictured) who lives in her Brighton mansion with her husband Gianni Romano and their two children – claimed she hired private security
Pali took to Instagram on Monday night and claimed there was a clear target’ on the Bayside which was causing ‘anxiety and fear among the community’ (pictured)
Situated about 11km out of Melbourne’s CBD, Brighton is the playground of the rich and famous.
It’s a suburb where hired help use high pressure hoses to spray leaves off the road during a rain storm.
Employees from households walk dogs in the rain and gardeners put on raincoats and continue cutting the hedges.
The suburb made headlines last week when Judd, a fellow resident and social media influencer, claimed she felt ‘unsafe’ in her $7.3 million mansion.
Pali backed her up via Instagram on Monday night, stating there was a ‘clear target’ on the Bayside which was causing ‘anxiety and fear among the community’.
The mother-of-two claimed ‘it was only a matter of time before someone gets killed’ and said she had received ‘countless’ messages from other worried locals who said they were scared to sleep at night in fear of being robbed.
Brighton resident Lyla, who like everyone else wished to remain at least partially anonymous, said while Brighton residents weren’t used to seeing homeless people on their streets, she too had heard stories of home invasions.
‘But on the street I haven’t personally noticed anything out of the ordinary. There was a wave of shops being broken into.’
‘There have been home invasions, I’ve seen it, but I haven’t heard it’s anything more than what usually goes on.’
Court sources have told Daily Mail Australia a good friend of a well respected judge had been the victim of one such attack.
Other Brighton locals claimed kids wearing ‘sh**ty tracksuits’ had caused some fear among the general population.
‘There’s been like gangs of youths. I sit here and go “they’re not from Brighton”. I think it’s the way they dress, they’re all just wearing sh**ty tracksuits and they look like bogans,’ one woman said.
‘You need to go to Elwood. There’s a lot of crime in Elwood at the moment,’ her friend said.
‘The most recent crime statistics released by an independent agency would not support those sweeping assessments’: Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews rubbished Rebecca Judd’s claims about crime in her affluent suburb of Brighton
Steve Wolf (pictured) said his ritzy Melbourne suburb of Brighton is now more violent than Brazilian city Rio de Janeiro
Local man, Steve Wolf, claimed the ritzy suburbs had become ‘astronomically worse’ since he moved to Brighton in February 2019.
Mr Wolf said in recent months his front gate was smashed, people with knives slashed a Liberal Party sign on his fence, and he’s been the victim of an attempted carjacking while driving his Ferrari.
‘I’m frightened to have my daughter over to stay with me — she’s only 11,’ he told Neil Mitchell on Melbourne radio station 3AW.
Back on the streets, Bayside blow-ins from across the walk happily strolled along the main drag to catch-up for lunch.
Nicola and Johanna said they felt safe in Brighton and had heard nothing more than reports of a few online ‘Gumtree’ scammers using the location to hoodwink locals.
‘We go out for lunch once a week in Brighton and we’ve never had any issues, but now I’m a bit worried. Should I look over my shoulder?’ Johanna laughed.
Official data from Victoria’s Crime Statistics Agency showed total criminal incidents in the Bayside Local Government Area were down 18.8 per cent from 2020 to 2021.
In the Brighton part of Bayside, where the Judds and Mr Wolf live, there were 999 incidents in 2021, down from 1,153 in 2020.
As Daily Mail Australia endeavoured to cordon-off more locals to address the reported crimewave, one elderly resident couldn’t help but offer an opinion.
Dressed smartly in the kind of ensemble one would expect from a lifelong residents of the jewel in Bayside’s crown, she suggested what perhaps the Victorian premier was thinking.
‘It’s a beat-up,’ she said.
Brighton Beach train station appears clean, safe and lined with security cameras