Dandenong, Victoria – one summer evening not that long ago. I was standing inside a middle-ring suburb’s 1980’s indoor shopping centre with the smell of potato cakes, and kebabs, and Kentucky Fried Chicken not so much lingering but dominating the air amidst the cheap clothing stores, the buzz of a hundred voices murmuring at once.
My companions for the evening: two young crystal-meth-using parents, Samuel and Jodie. Both were in their early twenties: Samuel was bone-thin with blue eyes and very white skin, and his wife was heavyset, Italian. They were not every-day-of-the-week, skin-falling-off-their-face addicts, but they did pay for their habit with crime.
I had come along to see how they generated cash through crime. For a few weeks prior, I had seen them coming back to Smithy’s from their crime sprees with hundreds of dollars — all obtained by stealing from department stores, and not by visiting pawn stores, which is a sure way for the amateur criminal to get caught.