Police target youth gang

A gang of youths allegedly responsible for a spate of assaults, robberies and vandalism have become the focus of Latrobe Valley police.

With about 15 members in the teenage gang, Latrobe Police Inspector Dean Thomas said police would soon stamp the group out.

“We’ve got assaults generally on children around the same age as this group of people and robberies where they’re demanding cash, phones and that type of stuff,” Insp Thomas said.

“They’re generally picking on people their age and we’ve got a lot of graffiti, a lot of tagging in various places across the Latrobe Valley and even down to Baw Baw and Warragul.”

So far, three teenage males have been charged in relation to the offences, two of whom are in custody to appear in a children’s court at a later date.

A 16 year-old Moe boy has been charged with armed robbery and remanded in custody, a 14 year-old Traralgon boy has been charged with criminal damage and drug-related offences and has been bailed with strict conditions and a 15 year-old Morwell boy has been charged with assault-related offences and has been remanded in custody.

Working with schools and partner agencies to identify gang members, Insp Thomas said while some had already been arrested and charged with various offences, police were appealing to the public for information.

“We’ve identified who the youths are and we’ve had a number of arrests already with some of these youths placed on remand and others with strict bail conditions,” Insp Thomas said.

“We are methodically working through the problem and we will be speaking with all of the youths and where appropriate issuing charges.

“I’m confident we will be able to stem the tide and stop this behaviour from occurring.”

Insp Thomas said community members should go about their daily business.

“If you do come across these people just move to the other side of the road,” Insp Thomas said.

“If you do fall victim to them, just comply with them, we don’t want people to put themselves in a situation where they are at risk.

“People have a right to go about their business without being intimidated and I encourage anyone with information or who has been a victim to call Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000 or submit a confidential crime report at www.crimestoppersvic.com.au”