Police youth gang blitz leads to 50 arrests ahead of school holidays

Police in Melbourne’s west have arrested 50 people as part of a concerted approach to target youth gang members and other repeat young offenders ahead of the school holidays.

Ahead of and over the Easter long weekend, police conducted arrest warrants, firearm prohibition order checks and bail compliance checks to put known offenders in the area on notice as part of Operation Alliance.

As a result, officers from the Westgate Alliance Taskforce and the Brimbank Offender Management Team arrested 20 children aged 10 – 17 and 15 youth aged 18 – 24 between 27 and 30 March.

15 older offenders were also arrested due to the significant police presence which included members from the Alliance Taskforce, Westgate Proactive Policing Unit, the Wyndham, Hobsons Bay and Maribyrnong Crime Investigation Units, Westgate Highway Patrol, Brimbank Highway Patrol, Air Wing, Public Order Response Team and Transit Division.

Operation Alliance continues to hold Victoria’s most serious and violent youth offenders accountable.

Over the past year, Alliance has led to 387 known youth gang members being arrested a combined total of 1,432 times. These offenders were charged with 3,286 offences.

A core group of 249 youth gang members who were arrested more than three times over the past year, including 59 arrested more than ten times, present a specific challenge for police.

The four-day blitz across Hobsons Bay, Maribyrnong, Wyndham and Brimbank resulted in:

• 50 arrests.

• Four offenders were remanded, 15 were released with intent to summons, four were released pending enquiries, and 27 were bailed.

• 142 vehicles checked and four vehicles impounded.

• 38 penalty notices issued.

Incidents of note across the four days include:

• On 28 March at around 12.35am, four male offenders allegedly entered a Braybrook home armed with knives and machetes. It Is alleged their faces were covered and they smashed a window before forcing entry through the front door. The four offenders have then pushed four victims into the one room, before threatening them with the weapons and demanding car keys and mobile phones. One of the offenders is alleged to have searched the premises, before being heard saying it was the wrong house. Offenders stole several mobile phones, before leaving and forcing entry to an adjacent premises where another mobile phone was stolen. Police intercepted a vehicle as they arrived, with two males on board. A 20-year-old Sunshine West man was arrested, while the other remains outstanding. A search of the vehicle located two machetes, drugs, and identification from one of the victims of the earlier home invasion. The 20-year-old Sunshine West man with known gang links was charged with two counts of home invasion and trafficking a commercial quantity of methamphetamine.

• On 30 March at around 12.05am, a woman was walking home near Heaths Road and Rosella Avenue in Werribee when she was allegedly approached by an unknown male brandishing a hammer. The male allegedly stole her handbag before fleeing in a grey Mitsubishi Lancer. The victim was not injured and phoned 000. Around 15 minutes later, the vehicle was observed by police on Poplar Boulevard, Truganina. Police tried to intercept the vehicle unsuccessfully before the vehicle was tracked by the Air Wing. Stop sticks were deployed, leading to the arrest of a 35-year-old Rockbank man. A hammer was found in the vehicle, as well as other stolen property. He was charged with armed robbery and will appear in Melbourne Magistrates Court on 21 June.

Quotes attributable to Acting Detective Senior Sergeant Ryan Balzer:

“We know the school holiday period generally creates greater opportunities for youth gangs to offend, with more potential young victims around busy locations such as shopping centres, parks, and transport hubs.”

“We are determined to disrupt anyone attempting to commit serious and violent crime, which is exactly what occurred in the western suburbs last week.”

“50 people were arrested, including 20 children and 15 youth offenders – many of which were either connected to a youth gang or a known repeat youth offender.”

“Victoria Police’s relentless pursuit of our state’s worst youth gangs is having an impact.”

“As of today, 620 youth gang members across 43 youth gangs currently being actively monitored by Victoria Police.”

“Due to a mixture of sustained enforcement and connecting young people to support services, this has reduced by 127 youth gang members since Operation Alliance was established in September 2020.”

/Public Release. View in full here.