African criminals living in Melbourne, Australia, appear to have stepped up their rampage through the suburbs of that city with at least ten major incidents over the last two days, according to police reports.
One of the victims, 96-year-old Sofia Barbopoulos, told media she was asleep in her bed when she heard the offender break into her home in Gertrude Street, St Albans just after 4.30am.
“Never, never, will I forget it in my life,” she said. “He went into all the bedrooms, he stole my jewellery… he went into the laundry, he was just going through everything. He wouldn’t leave.”
The report continued by saying that the “violent evening began when three masked men forced their way through the front door of a Selwyn Court home in Skye just after 11.30pm and confronted a male resident who was asleep.
“He was assaulted and suffered minor injuries before the offenders ran away.”
“Then, at 1.10am, a male offender forced his way into a home in Bayswater. A man and woman residing there locked themselves in a bedroom to avoid coming into contact with him.
“Police interrupted the robbery and chased the offender, who fled in a getaway vehicle. Officers pursued the car, but lost sight of the white Holden ute in Ringwood East.
“Just before 3am, a 43-year-old Brighton man was also confronted by at least one male offender inside his Lucas Street home. The man fled through a rear door after stealing a large quantity of jewellery from the property.”
Chief Commisisoner Graham Ashton said police believe a “core group” of repeat offenders are behind a recent spate of home invasions and violent burglaries in Melbourne’s west and north-west.
At least three homes in Albion and Taylors Hill were also broken into earlier in the week, along with a mass attack by “offenders wielding garden stakes.”
Ashton was asked on Tuesday about a recent spike in home invasions, “often involving offenders described by victims as being of African appearance,” a report in the Age newspaper added.
“He said a spate of this sort of crime could happen when repeat offenders were released from custody.
”We have got a core group of offenders who we have to work on all the time,” he said.
”When they are not in custody, they are offending. That’s what can happen.”
Police are investigating if the Taylors Hill break-in is linked to an armed robbery that happened later on Sunday night at a McDonald’s outlet in Essendon where offenders were wielding garden stakes as they smashed windows and computers.
Detectives will also investigate whether the home invasions in Albion on Tuesday morning were related to Sunday night’s aggravated burglaries in Taylors Hill and Essendon.
Victorian Police Minister Lisa Neville said Victoria Police’s Gang Crime squad had so far made around 850 arrests since the squad was formed in June 2017, but she admitted it was an uphill battle as crime rates often surged when repeat offenders were released.
“We’ve got this tough group, this group that seem to lack any empathy and that are willing to do any harm,” she said.
Aggravated burglaries and robberies have been increasing in Victoria. Crime Statistics Agency data showed the number of offences rose by 12.2 per cent last year.
A 7 News report revealed that at least four nonwhite invaders in Melbourne–all linked to the African “Apex” gang—had been deported in January.
The report, titled “‘Four down, potentially hundreds more to go’: Apex gang members deported,” said that more “Apex gang thugs could be deported under a Federal Government crackdown on violent criminals.”