Police crackdown nets 11 young offenders

Police in south east Victoria have been working hard to crack down on serious offending throughout January, arresting almost a dozen young offenders connected to two separate crime sprees.

Detectives from the Southern Metro Region Crime Team arrested 11 people as part of two significant investigations into a series of alleged incidents involving aggravated burglaries, car thefts, robbery and driving offences.

The first investigation, Operation Holidays, resulted in the arrest of eight teenagers following a series of incidents which occurred between December 30, 2020 and January 6, 2021.

“Detectives from the Southern Metro Region Crime Team have been working closely with police right across the state to swiftly identify and arrest offenders committing serious offences,” said Southern Metro Region Crime Team Detective Inspector Peter Harrington.

“With the increase of movement throughout the community, we’ve seen a number of instances where groups of young people have been committing a series of offences together across different parts of the state, not just in their local neighbourhood,” he said.

“We know the deep impact these types of crimes can have on both the victims and broader community – that is why we have been working around the clock to put a stop to this offending and hold people to account.

“With many people returning to on-site work for the first time in almost twelve months, we implore everyone to stay one step ahead of opportunistic thieves by securing their homes and cars.”

The incidents include an alleged aggravated burglary in Kew where two luxury vehicles were stolen and then subsequently used in a robbery in Yarraville.

Four of the teens were arrested after they attempted to evade police in one of the stolen cars on the Monash Freeway.

The Air Wing followed the vehicle travelling erratically and at times, up to 200km per hour along the freeway before the occupants were arrested.

The eight teens, aged between 14 and 18-years-old, have been charged with a range of offences including aggravated burglary, theft of motor vehicle, reckless conduct endangering serious injury and driving offences.

The second investigation, Operation Gully, resulted in the arrest of three people following a series of alleged incidents in Bendigo, Bentleigh, Blackburn, Mornington Peninsula, Carrum Downs and Toorak between 1-5 January, including the theft of a car from Bendigo which was later found burnt out in Bentleigh.

A few days later, a stolen car from Toorak was also used to ram a police car and narrowly missed hitting a number of police officers.

Three teenagers, a 14-year-old boy and two 15-year-old boys, have been charged with a range of offences including aggravated burglary and robbery. All three have been remanded in custody.

Police say they will continue to work hard to prevent and detect this type of offending but there are a number of simple steps everyone can take to reduce the risk of becoming a victim of vehicle-related theft:

• Always store car keys out of view and away from external doors and windows.

• Make sure you have your keys with you at all times. This includes times when you are out, and you’ve left your car at home.

• When you are out do not leave car keys unattended in bags, lockers etc.

• Don’t tag your car keys with your name or address. Use a mobile phone number instead.

• Never leave a spare set of house keys or car keys in your car.

Police are also urging people to take a few simple measures to secure their properties and help reduce the risk of becoming a victim of burglary, including:

• Installing good quality locks on doors and windows.

• Lock all windows and doors, even when you’re at home – unlocked side and rear doors are the most common entry points for burglars.

• Installing an alarm system or CCTV system

If you need immediate police assistance always call Triple Zero (000). Report any suspicious behaviour to your local police station or Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.