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Massive Crackdown on Youth Gang Activity: 50 Arrested in Melbourne’s West Ahead of School Holidays

Youth Gang Crackdown
  
   

Dramatic Werribee Incident Leads to Arrest in Melbourne's West as Police Crack Down on Youth Gangs

In a concerted effort to combat youth gang activities and repeat offences among young people, Melbourne’s western suburbs witnessed the arrest of 50 individuals by the police. This operation, particularly focused ahead of the school holidays, aimed at enhancing community safety and security by preemptively targeting known offenders.

A notable incident during this operation occurred in Werribee, where a woman was walking home near Heaths Road and Rosella Avenue around 12:05 am on March 30. An unknown male, wielding a hammer, allegedly approached her, stole her handbag, and then fled in a grey Mitsubishi Lancer. The victim, fortunately unharmed, called emergency services. Police quickly spotted the vehicle, and after a brief pursuit aided by the Air Wing and the deployment of stop sticks, arrested a 35-year-old man from Rockbank. Found in the vehicle were a hammer and other stolen items. Charged with armed robbery, the suspect is scheduled to appear in Melbourne Magistrates Court on June 21.

The wider operation, named Operation Alliance, involved various proactive measures, including arrest warrants, firearm prohibition order checks, and bail compliance checks, conducted ahead of and during the Easter long weekend. The initiative was a clear signal to known offenders that law enforcement was actively monitoring their activities.

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From March 27 to March 30, officers from the Westgate Alliance Taskforce and the Brimbank Offender Management Team made a series of arrests. They apprehended 20 minors aged 10 to 17 and 15 young adults aged 18 to 24. The operation also saw the arrest of 15 older individuals due to the significant police presence, which included units like the Westgate Proactive Policing Unit, Crime Investigation Units, Highway Patrol teams, the Air Wing, Public Order Response Team, and the Transit Division.

Operation Alliance has had a considerable impact on youth gang activity in Victoria. Over the past year, 387 known youth gang members were arrested a combined total of 1,432 times, facing charges for 3,286 offences. Among these, a core group of 249 members, arrested multiple times, presents ongoing challenges for police efforts.

The operation’s outcomes included 50 arrests, with decisions varying from remand and bail to releases pending further inquiries or with intent to summon. Additionally, police conducted 142 vehicle checks, impounded four vehicles, and issued 38 penalty notices.

Another significant incident during the operation involved a home invasion in Braybrook by four male offenders armed with knives and machetes, further emphasizing the operation’s necessity.

Acting Detective Senior Sergeant Ryan Balzer highlighted the strategic importance of targeting potential youth gang activities during the school holidays. He commended the substantial impact of Victoria Police’s efforts, noting that 620 youth gang members across 43 gangs are currently under surveillance, demonstrating a notable decrease in youth gang membership since Operation Alliance began in September 2020.

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