Monash Police arrested 23 people throughout October and November for vehicle related crime in Melbourne’s eastern suburbs, following a spike in offending as coronavirus restrictions eased.
Throughout October and November, police noticed a significant increase in cars being stolen and broken into in the Monash Police Service Area, which encompasses Clayton, Glen Waverley, Mount Waverley and Oakleigh.
The increase in vehicle crime coincided with the lifting of restrictions, which had limited the movement of opportunistic offenders and saw people spending increased time at home guarding their properties and belongings.
In response to the increase, Monash Police launched Operation Citadel on 1 November. With the operation now into its sixth week, police have seen a significant decrease in both theft from motor vehicle and theft of motor vehicle offences in the area, following the arrest of almost two dozen offenders.
As part of the operation, police conducted a search warrant at a Clayton address on Wednesday 12 November, which resulted in the arrest of two women – a 42-year-old and a 27-year-old, both from Clayton.
Both were arrested and charged with a total of 23 offences, including theft from motor vehicle and obtain property by deception offences, and bailed to appear at the Melbourne Magistrates Court on 25 February 2021.
On Wednesday 25 November, police executed a subsequent search warrant at a Dandenong address which resulted in the seizure of property/clothing linked to the above offending and the arrest of a 43-year-old Dandenong male. The male was charged with 21 offences including obtain property by deception, attempted burglary, handle stolen goods and commit indictable offence whilst on bail and remanded in custody.
The alleged offences investigated as part of Operation Citadel predominantly occurred at night with thieves targeting cars parked on the street and in driveways, while other incidents were also reported during daylight hours at high vehicle volume areas like train stations and shopping centre carparks.
Police estimated around seventy percent of the reported incidents were as a result of an unlocked vehicle, with no sign of forced entry.
The majority of items stolen were wallets, cash, credit cards, sunglasses and electronic devices.
Operation Citadel, which involves an increase in proactive patrols, will continue to take place in known car theft hotspots, including quiet residential areas.
Police are also proactively targeting known persons of interest as part of the operation to disrupt and deter offending, as well as holding community engagement activities to educate the public around the importance of securing their vehicles.
Police are urging the community to remove all valuables from vehicles and where possible, park and lock their vehicles off the street – people are encouraged to keep their keys out of sight and never near the entry of their home.
The community is encouraged to report suspicious behaviour or information to Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000 or submit a confidential report at www.crimestoppersvic.com.au
Quotes attributed to Acting Inspector Nicholas Vaughan:
“While we are working hard to detect and arrest offenders, it is also imperative that residents secure their vehicles, by locking doors and windows, securing garages, and displaying security features such as CCTV and alarms which may deter this offending.”
“The message we want people to remember is leaving vehicles unlocked makes them an easy target for would-be thieves. It means they can quietly enter your vehicle without smashing a window or forcing locks, reducing their chances of being caught.”
“As the community continue to enjoy newfound freedoms and we move into the holiday period, we want to remind everyone to secure their vehicles and keys as they spend greater time away from their homes.”