United against high harm crime

With changes in lockdown restrictions imminent across the state, police are sending a warning to those looking to leave their homes and bring harm to the community – we’re ready for you.

A state-wide operation targeting a range of high harm offences including robberies, aggravated burglaries, armed robberies, car jackings and assaults will kick off in Melbourne’s north west suburbs this week.

Operation United brings together police from a range of units across the North West Metro Region (Division 3) and Crime Command as part of a joint effort to deter and disrupt an anticipated increase in a number of criminal offences as COVID-19 restrictions ease.

Over the past few months, police have seen patterns emerge in criminal behaviour which show increases in a number of specific offences when restrictions are lifted or reduced.

This is predominantly offences that are linked to more people being out and about in the community and able to move freely across suburbs, such as opportunistic street and armed robberies.

Many of these crimes are linked to street gangs and other organised criminal groups, which will be a key focus of Operation United.

Detectives from the Gang Crime Squad will work closely with regional investigators to proactively target known offenders and other persons of interest through a range of enforcement activities.

There will also be a highly visible police presence throughout the Melton and Brimbank areas, with police conducting regular patrols of known crime hot spots.

This will involve local police, the Public Order Response Team, highway patrol, transit police and Dog Squad.

Superintendent David Jones, Divisional Commander in charge of the Melton and Brimbank areas, said Operation United was about having a significant planned police response in place as restrictions start to change.

“We can’t be complacent and wait for crimes to be committed – this is about being proactive and taking decisive action to disrupt this type of offending,” he said.

“It’s also about being smarter and looking at what our intelligence has shown us during the COVID-19 period in terms of patterns in criminal offending, then working as hard as we can to constantly be that step ahead of offenders.

“The days of detectives just making arrests and moving on have gone, we’re far more sophisticated in our approach to both crime trends and the management of known persons of interest.

“Local police know who their local offenders are, and we make no apologies for targeting them through operations such as this.

“We’re also able to draw on specialised resources from across Victoria Police, such as the Gang Crime Squad, who can really provide that state-wide overview and intelligence.

“This is about driving down crime and in what has already been a tough year for many people, we want to make sure everyone in our local community stays safe.”

Commander Mick Frewen, from Victoria Police’s Crime Command, said Operation United is about holding offenders accountable.

“This type of high harm high impact offending, such as armed robberies, aggravated burglaries and car jackings, inflicts enormous damage on victims and the broader community,” he said.

“We also known that these offenders, particularly youth and street gang offenders, are rarely limited by location and are happy to travel across the state to commit offences.

“They should be aware that we are happy to travel too and regardless of what part of the state they find themselves in committing offences, police will be there as well.

“This about keeping our foot on the throat of violent offending and providing optimal presence and targeted activities to prevent and limit increases in offending.

“While we are starting Operation United in Melbourne’s north west, this is something that is going to be happening in other areas across the state during the coming weeks.

“We’re happy for people to know we’re coming and that we’re ready to hold them to account.”

Operation United will start in the Melton and Brimbank areas on 13 September.

Anyone with information about offences or gang activity is urged to contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000 or submit a confidential report online at www.crimestoppersvic.com.au

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