Vanishing sign warns of Scarborough sale

The Scarborough Police Station sign has been removed, raising concerns the state government is quietly preparing to sell the heritage-listed property.

"No standing" signs on Lawrence Hargrave Drive in front of the building and the emergency phone linking Scarborough to Wollongong Police Station have also been taken down.

Though the government said the changes were for "maintenance", former Scarborough station officer Thomas Alexander said he suspected the property would soon be put up for sale.

Recently retired, Mr Alexander said the changes had been made within weeks of his leaving the property in December.

A relic of a bygone era, the Scarborough Police Station had acted as a live-in office for more than 20 years for Mr Alexander and his family, with residents able to knock on the door whenever they had concerns.

Since the unofficial closure, Scarborough residents had begun appearing on the doorstep of his new home, not knowing where to turn when they felt unsafe in the suburb, he said.

"There's no local policeman to go talk to," he said. "The years of going and speaking to your local policeman to find out what's wrong and have someone tell their problems to if they see someone suspicious in the area ... [are gone].

"They can report it to Wollongong, but they're not going to get the same service as if there's someone based in the community."

The closest 24-hour police station to Scarborough is 20 kilometres away in Wollongong, and the closest part-time station is 13 kilometres away in Helensburgh.

In 2009, when the community first heard a rumour about the station closing, more than 500 Scarborough residents gathered to protest.

The property was among those highlighted in the 2012 Parsons report, a statewide police audit which recommended an urgent review of impending sales and a focus on more community-based policing.

A NSW Police Force spokesman said no decision had been made to sell the station.

"It will continue to be reviewed based on the operational police requirements for the northern Illawarra area."

The spokesman said the painting of a boundary fence and other maintenance works was behind recent changes to the site. And no sale of a police office could begin without ministerial consideration and community consultation.

A spokeswoman for Police Minister Michael Gallacher said: "The divestment of NSW Police Force property is recommended by the commissioner and his executive team based on operational requirements".

The minister's office would not say if a new police officer would be installed as a tenant.

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