A monument to slave trader Robert Towns in Townsville, Queensland. (Image: Wikimedia)

If you believe the media hype, Townsville is in the midst of a crime wave that has driven locals in the north Queensland city to take matters into their own hands.

Locals like Robbie, who cruises around Townsville in a clown mask roughhousing “suspicious-looking" teens.

The ABC talked to Robbie. An article published yesterday called him a “self-described patriot”, quoted him liberally (and uncritically), and documented his exploits scouring the streets for potential young offenders. The article, which warned of a “youth crime surge”, was splashed across the ABC News home page.