Melbourne’s affluent suburbs are being targeted by violent teen gangs stealing cars and invading homes, forcing police to step up patrols and plead for residents to increase security.
The Apex gang is blamed for a spate of aggravated burglaries in recent months, including the vicious assault of a Mercedes driver on Monday and a subsequent home invasion in which the luxury car was used.
Michael Tallal, 29, was parked in Toorak about 2am on Monday when a car bumped his Mercedes from behind.
Six young men stole his phone and car, bashing him with a baseball bat.
“The police have advised me that this is a known gang to them committing these crimes all over Melbourne,” he wrote on Facebook.
His car was used in an aggravated burglary in Cranbourne hours later when the same group – described as of African, Pacific Island or Maori appearance – bashed down a door of a house and stole mobile phones and other items.
Assistant Commissioner Bob Hill said on Tuesday the increase in carjackings and aggravated burglaries was because of increased car security – that made it harder to hotwire vehicles.
But he hosed down suggestions that most such crimes were committed by members of the Apex gang, saying affiliations were “loose”.
Victoria Police set up Taskforce Tense in November to tackle gang-related crime, so far arresting more than 70 people, mostly males, aged between 14 and 30.
He said of those 70, only 26 were connected to the Apex gang.
“We’re seeing this type of behaviour replicated by others in our community engaging in this thrill-seeking, risk-taking behaviour replicating the Grand Theft Auto PlayStation game,” he said.
Mr Hill said the only trend police were seeing is that there is more disturbing crime occurring in the affluent areas “where the Mercs, the Audis, the BMWs are parked in driveways and streets of our leafy suburbs”.
Mr Hill said police were increasing patrols in these areas as a result and urged residents to increase their home and car security.