April 26th, 2016
A plague of carjackings and home invasions believed to have been visited on Melbourne’s affluent suburbs by the violent Apex gang has police urging the public to increase their personal security while officers step up street patrols.
On Tuesday, Assistant Commissioner Bob Hill said there had been a spike in car-related crime, “where the Mercs, the Audis, the BMWs are parked in the driveways and streets of our leafy suburbs”.
“We haven’t seen an increase in crime in those areas for some time,” he said.
The loosely knit teenage gang is being held responsible for the vicious assault of a Mercedes driver on Monday and a subsequent home invasion in which the man’s luxury car was used.
The victim – Avondale Heights man Michael Tallal – spoke about his terrifying experience on Facebook in a post that has been shared more than 4000 times.
Mr Tallal, 29, pulled over his car on Toorak Road in Toorak at 2am on Monday after it was hit from behind by another car, believed to be a grey Nissan.
When Mr Tallal got out to speak with the other driver, he was attacked by “five or six” men and hit on the head with a baseball bat, police said.
Michael Tallal spoke on Facebook about a terrifying carjacking in Toorak. Photo: Facebook
The men then demanded Mr Tallal’s mobile phone before ordering him to hand over his car keys. They then sped off in the Mercedes.
“The police have advised me that this is a known gang to them committing these crimes all over Melbourne,” Mr Tallal wrote on Facebook.
Apex gang members were held responsible for last month’s Moomba riots in the CBD.
Mr Tallal, who went to hospital, said his glasses and watch were smashed during the attack as he was attempting to shield his face.
When he was released from hospital, he said, he found out his car had been used for “numerous other crimes” including a home invasion in Cranbourne.
A photo of a Mercedes on Michael Tallal’s Facebook page. Photo: Facebook
Carjackings are on the rise across the city and many communities are becoming increasingly fearful.
“Look in the rear vision mirror, how many people are in that car? What are they doing?” said Assistant Commissioner Bob Hill. Photo: Craig Abraham
Mr Yemini said the page had been created in response to an increase in crimes against members of Melbourne’s Jewish community.
He said many residents placed the blame for the crime wave on the Apex gang, which has also been held responsible for last month’s Moomba riots in the CBD.
Assistant Commissioner Hill said police were increasing patrols across the city’s wealthier suburbs as a result of the rise in car-related crime, and urged residents to increase their security.
He said the increase in carjackings and aggravated burglaries was because of increased car security, which made it harder to hotwire vehicles.
But he hosed down suggestions that most of such crimes were committed by Apex members, saying affiliations were “loose”.
Mr Hill said that of the 70 people arrested through Taskforce Tense – set up in November to monitor Apex – only 26 were connected with the gang.
The criminals responsible were often connected with a loosely networked group via social media, he said.
“We’re seeing this type of behaviour replicated by others in our community engaging in this thrill-seeking, risk-taking behaviour replicating the Grand Theft Auto PlayStation game,” he said.
“They don’t have a clubhouse, they don’t wear colours.
“This is a group of young people committing these offences.”
Assistant Commissioner Hill rebuffed suggestions that the police pursuit policy was stopping officers from apprehending offenders.
“Where someone is engaging in an aggravated burglary … clearly the policy allows our members to engage in pursuit,” he said.
While Mr Tallal suggested that people in a crash should call the police before getting out of their vehicle, Assistant Commissioner Hill said everyone’s circumstances were different.
He suggested people be aware of their surroundings before getting out of the car.
“Look in the rear vision mirror, how many people are in that car? What are they doing?” he said.
Anyone with information is urged to contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000 or submit a confidential crime report to www.crimestoppersvic.com.au
– Tom Cowie