Mass arrests for commercial burglaries

Fifty-four people have been arrested in an operation targeting commercial burglaries in the CBD and surrounds.

Operation Nights Watch initially ran from April 1 to 8, with uniform and plain clothes officers actively patrolling in and around commercial businesses and industrial areas to disrupt criminal activity and opportunistic crime. The operation will continue in the CBD and Yarra.

Twenty-six warrants were executed for offences including burglary, theft and drug-related offences, including:

On April 7, a 40-year-old Blackburn man was arrested while allegedly committing a burglary inside a commercial premises in Little Bourke St. Police seized stolen property. The man was bailed to appear at Melbourne Magistrates’ Court on June 26.

On April 5, a 17-year-old male was arrested after entering a service station on Lygon St in Carlton allegedly armed with a replica firearm and knife, and in possession of drugs. He was remanded to appear at a Children’s Court at a later date.

On April 2, police were on patrol when they attempted to intercept a stolen car on Short St in Altona at about 11pm. The vehicle failed to pull over and was followed to an address on Victoria St in Brunswick at about 12.30am where three men were arrested. Two men have been charged with theft and theft of motor vehicle, and driving related offences. They were bailed to appear at court at a later date.

Officers checked more than 1300 people over the seven nights, intercepting 395 vehicles and impounding one vehicle.

Traffic-related offences resulted in 162 infringement notices being issued.

While committing offences, 110 offenders were also found to be in breach of the directions by the Chief Health Officer and were issued a $1652 penalty notice.

Acting Superintendent Kelvin Gale said police across Victoria had been actively patrolling in-and-around commercial businesses and industrial areas to prevent and deter crime, including theft and property damage during the coronavirus pandemic.

“We know a lot of commercial premises - shops, bars, factories and other businesses – across Victoria are currently closed or running with reduced operating hours during this challenging time for the community,” A/Supt Gale said.

“Offenders often consider commercial burglaries a victimless crime and see stealing from businesses as not personally affecting anyone.”

“We know this is not the case with many business owners and operators suffering significantly when theft occurs, having adverse implications economically but also emotionally. This is even more particularly true during these financially challenging times.”

Victoria Police always encourages businesses to have measures in place to reduce the risk of crime.

There are a number of crime prevention strategies that businesses can adopt to prevent damage to property, and prevent theft:

CCTV is commonly acknowledged as a useful tool to prevent crime while also holding perpetrators accountable. The release of CCTV footage to the public also assists police in identifying offenders and witnesses and can be used as evidence in court.

While premises are unattended, remove valuable items where possible from the building.

Consider installing a safe that is securely fitted to a solid object. Safe keys and combinations should be stored securely and separately.

To minimise damage to cash registers, leave your tills empty and open. This will avoid an offender damaging the cash register to find out there is nothing inside •

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