Police pounce on stolen van, shocking retailers
Rhonda Dredge & Brendan Rees
Retail workers in Little Collins St have been left stunned after recounting the dramatic moment police swooped on an allegedly stolen van, dousing those inside with capsicum spray.
Workers watched as police converged on a black Mercedes Sprinter parked outside The Georges apartment building in Collins St on Wednesday, July 12.
“A guy was in the driver’s seat. They sprayed him through the window,” one witness, Linnea Lindquist, said.
By the time TV news crews arrived three people had been handcuffed and were sitting on the footpath without shoes.
A woman with a blonde ponytail was particularly poignant with her head bowed down low and her handcuffed arms in full view.
Laura Garvie watched the drama unfold from the door of fashion boutique Lindsay Nichol New York just a few shops up from The Georges.
“It was about 12.45 pm. I was sitting at the desk in a bubble when all of a sudden there was a massive commotion on the street,” she said.
“I ran out and they [police] pulled people out of a van, pepper spraying them and pushing them on the ground.”
She said the roads had been blocked off and that the police had been reportedly tracking the van on City Link cameras.
They had 30 cops out there. The fact that they [the van] came into the city was silly.
Baristas at the coffee shop across the road from The Georges had the best view of the operation and a slightly different take.
Ms Lindquist was making coffee. She said the van was parked when the police arrived. “It was parked for ages,” she said. “The cops were ready to pounce.”
“It was shocking. A bit entertaining. We had the door closed. We were watching. They pulled a dog out of the van, a pit ball.”
Linnea Lindquist, barista.
She said the young woman was in the back seat of the van and stepped out. The police put her in cuffs but did not pepper spray her.
The suspects were detained on the footpath for about 90 minutes, according to onlookers, while police waited for ambulances.
Victoria Police confirmed three men and a woman were arrested. A 31-year-old man was charged and bailed on drug possession, while a 36-year-old man was charged and bailed on drug possession, possession of a weapon, and committing offences while on bail.
Both will appear at the Melbourne Magistrates Court on August 11.
A 22-year-old woman has been released pending further enquiries.
The fourth offender, a 51-year-old man from Western Australia, was, at the time of publication, in hospital under police guard.
Merri-bek Crime Investigation Unit detectives made the arrests following an aggravated burglary and theft of the Mercedes van.
“The offenders allegedly forced entry to a home on Station Rd in Glenroy in the early hours of Tuesday July 11 stealing keys and fleeing the scene in the stolen van,” a police spokesperson said.
“Efforts by police to track the vehicle with assistance of the owner, along with coverage in the media and the safe city camera operators, aided in the location of the offenders and van.” •
Main caption: Laura Garvie, retail worker.