Cops target ‘swarming’

By Esther Lauaki

Police have honed in on dozens of youths in a crackdown on rising thefts at electronic stores in Wyndham and other hotspots around the state.

A spate of smash-and-grab “swarming” raids on electronics stores between July and September prompted Victoria Police last month to form a specialist squad of 10 officers.

The team, working alongside Taskforce Wayward, made 37 arrests of high priority offenders and executed 54 arrest warrants across the state in the past month.

North West Metro commander Tim Hansen said the new style of offending was a cause of concern.

“Shop stealing isn’t new to us, it isn’t new to the community,” Commander Hansen said.

“What has grabbed our attention is the increased use of violence, the use of numbers to intimidate what is predominantly junior retail staff who are vulnerable and aren’t well positioned to resist or stop this offending, and nor would we expect them to.

“What we are seeing … is violent high-end offending.”

“Concerningly these offenders were aged between 14 and 17 years of age,” commander Hansen said.

Police said “swarming” thefts involved large groups of young people entering telco or electronics stores, including JB HiFi stores in Hoppers Crossing and Point Cook, ripping products from display units and fleeing.

 with The Age