A group of youths has been intimidating Qawra residents, recently leaving a family “terrified” when, hooded and armed with knives, they attempted to break down the door to their home.

The incidents, captured on CCTV footage, have prompted a call for more active policing and patrols in the Qawra, Buġibba and St Paul’s Bay area, where rising criminality could be stemmed by a “visible police presence”, according to residents.

On Friday evening, the Calleja family was alerted to an intrusion at around 7.30pm by such a loud bang that they thought a car had crashed into their front door.

“It was some sort of explosion and, thankfully, we have a solid door,” the son, Miguel Calleja, recounted about the “horrific event”.

The footage shows around eight youths gathered outside the home in Cassarino Street, jumping on the property wall and approaching the door while the rest of the 15-strong “gang” was gathered in the vandalised playing fields near the house.

Calleja, who, “luckily”, happened to be at his family home that evening, said the situation was “like something we only used to watch in violent movies”.

The police arrived after an hour and following three attempts to call for assistance, Calleja said.

“We were told they were busy and did not have enough cars,” he continued in disbelief.

Calleja emerged from the house to face and chase the aggressors, who left and returned armed with knives, he said.

“It was only an hour later, when a random guy, who turned out to be PN MP David Thake, called the police that they showed up 20 minutes after and picked up two of the youths,” Calleja continued.

Even then, some of them returned until another neighbour confronted them.

On Monday, the undeterred “gang” came back to the house in broad daylight, throwing an old fan at the front door, kicking it and terrorising Calleja’s mother.

This incident saw the immediate intervention of the police but Calleja said he was told no action could be taken against the minors and they were let off, even though they were carrying knives.

“They seem to be untouchable and unafraid,” Calleja said.

“Even if they are just 14 and 15, they still have weapons and they can still stab someone.”

He said the attacks were random and unprovoked.

Calleja’s appeal was echoed by Thake, who lives close by and identified the problem as a “group of kids” of mixed nationalities, aged between 12 and 19, who gathered and loitered by the church square, were loud and extremely vulgar and could be intimidating.

Informed about problems of police staffing and resources, he said that though he understood their predicament, what were citizens supposed to do?

“Take the law into our own hands and defend our own properties,” he asked.

The police had to make their presence felt, especially in areas where trouble was likely to erupt, he insisted.

“I myself feel uncomfortable walking the 300 metres from my garage to my house at night,” Thake said.

St Paul’s Bay mayor Alfred Grima said he was in regular contact with the superintendent at the locality’s police station and had written to the police to keep an eye out and watch the area, adding he was “certain this is happening and they are doing their part in trying to catch the persons responsible”.

The police told Times of Malta: “On November 19, district police were informed that in Cassarino Street, St Paul’s Bay, a group of youths were being noisy and disturbing the public peace. Officers went on site and identified a number of them.

“Yesterday [Monday] evening, Qawra police station was again informed that other people were disturbing the public peace by throwing objects at residents’ houses. Officers managed to identify and speak to the youths while further investigations are ongoing.” 

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