Operation Sandstorm – Sunshine and Cooloola Coast

Police have stepped up their efforts to crack down on beach hooning between Noosa North Shore and Cooloola as part of an ongoing operation focussed on ensuring the safety of visitors and preserving the local environment.

In July 2020 Operation Sandstorm was commenced, involving targeted beachside patrols of the popular tourist spots and increased enforcement activity.

With local tourism gradually returning to full capacity in late 2020 after the easing COVID restrictions, officers engaged in additional covert response tactics such as the deployment of drones to monitor driver behaviour.

Sunshine Coast Superintendent Craig Hawkins said people were still testing the limits of their vehicles on the beach despite one death at Teewah in the past year and a number of serious injury crashes.

“In the past two weeks alone we’ve seen a young man taken to hospital after falling from the tray of a ute performing burnouts at Noosa North Shore in an area frequented by young families,” Superintendent Hawkins said.

“Then on the ANZAC Day long weekend police attended a serious single vehicle rollover where a man was thrown from a ute due to not wearing a seatbelt,” he said.

“Heading into this Labour Day long weekend we will continue to be out in force in line with Operation Sandstorm.

“Close to 500 Traffic Infringement Notices have been issued in the past two years in the area with at least three vehicles impounded,” he said.

“Drone surveillance has revealed drivers are continuing to engage in risky behaviour and police remain committed to following up any reports of dangerous activity which may put other motorists and innocent campers at risk of injury.”

Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service State Compliance Manager Michael Devery said the rangers regularly monitor visitor behaviour.

“Our rangers issue fines for non-compliance, failure to have necessary permits and for environmentally and socially inappropriate behaviour,” Mr Devery said.

“In addition to QPS officers, QPWS rangers can enforce a range of driving related offences including without due care and attention, unlicensed driving, and failing to wear a seat belt.

“We want to ensure the safety of all visitors to the Noosa North Shore and Cooloola area and will continue to work closely with the QPS to uphold safe driving practices.”

Police action since Easter 2019:

  • 5359 Roadside Breath Tests (RBTs) conducted with 16 people detected drink driving
  • 486 Traffic Infringement Notices (TINs) issues
  • 139 Roadside Drug Tests (RDTs) conducted with 16 people detected drug driving
  • Seven dangerous drug offences
  • Four unlicensed drivers
  • One disqualified driver
  • Three hoon offences with vehicle impounds
  • 11 defective vehicle repair notices
  • One assist National Parks Wildlife Rangers with eviction of 11 campers.

DES action from February 1, 2019 to January 31, 2021 in the Cooloola Recreation Area:

  • 878 Penalty Infringement Notices (PINs)
  • Of those PINs, 490 are vehicle-related offences

Anti-hooning laws have been strengthened in Queensland to hold the registered owner of a vehicle responsible for any hooning activity carried out in that vehicle. The new legislation will make it easier for police to take enforcement action against mass gatherings of hoons.

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