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Thursday, July 8, 1999 Published at 16:38 GMT 17:38 UK

World: Asia-Pacific

Bing keeps troublemakers at bay

If you don't like Bing Crosby, stay well away

The American singer and film star, Bing Crosby, has a new role as a crime fighter.

More than 20 years after his death, an Australian shopping centre is using his music to cut shop-lifting and rowdyism.

[ image: A young Crosby with Dorothy Lamour and Bob Hope in The Road to Singapore (1940)]
A young Crosby with Dorothy Lamour and Bob Hope in The Road to Singapore (1940)
Lovers of the crooner - whose recordings include Swinging on a Star, Thanks for the Memory, and Easter Parade - might assume that the Warrawong Westfield mall in Wollongong, south of Sydney, is playing Crosby classics to soothe shoppers and calm away any thoughts of anti-social behaviour.

But that's not exactly the case.

The mall has found that it can keep loitering gangs away from its doors by repeated playing of Crosby's 1938 song, My Heart is Taking Lessons.

It has been highly effective, with teenagers driven away from their old haunt by the unbearably old-fashioned tune.

"All the people from Warrawong High used to hang here after school - now you don't see them," said one local student.

Police say the scheme has been so successful they are talking to community leaders about putting loudspeakers in public squares and railway stations.

Another Sydney suburb, Kogarah, is hoping that Bing's back catalogue will be just as effective in sorting out their teenager layabouts.

And in Wollongong, community officials say their next move will be to hit young troublemakers in another sensitive spot.

They are considering installing pink lights which are reputed to highlight teenage pimples.

But youth lawyer Jane Sanders slammed the move: "It sends out the message to young people: you're troublemakers, you're not wanted in our community."

She did not say what music she would find more acceptable.

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