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Youth Questioned Over Carjackings

UPDATE | A boy is being questioned over this week's police chase in Townsville.  

The 11-year-old was taken into custody on Tuesday after Monday's pursuit forced flights here to be diverted to Cairns and Mackay.  

The Townsville Policing District has launched Operation Romeo Seville to address emerging crime issues.

This operation will incorporate the resources of the Townsville District with the support of State Crime Command, State Intel and Operations Support Command.

Operation Romeo Seville will be an intelligence based place and case strategy targeting known recidivist offenders and emerging high risk crime areas with specific enforcement activities directed at detecting recidivist offenders.

To date, Operation Romeo Seville has resulted in the arrest of four young people associated with the recent increase in property crime in the Townsville area.

• An 11-year-old boy was arrested and charged with property related offences.

• Two 12-year-old girls were arrested and are being dealt with under the Youth Justice Act.

• A 13-year-old boy has been arrested and is currently assisting police with inquires.

Investigations continue.

Police Minister Mark Ryan told Qld Parliament on Wednesday, “the LNP’s plan for Townsville is to wish misery on Townsville, the LNP’s plan for Townsville is to escalate crime. They don’t want to hear positive news about the efforts of police in Townsville.”

Meantime, Hinchinbrook MP Nick Dametto fears civil unrest will break out on Townsville’s streets between criminals and law-abiding citizens unless the State’s political leaders and heads of government agencies bring crime back under control.

The Katter’s Australian Party MP is calling for an urgent tri-partisan “Youth Crime Action Meeting” in order to stop the endless “spree of home invasions, assaults and thefts” being perpetrated by criminals.

“Yesterday, we had a diabolical situation in Townsville where the city was effectively placed into lockdown as a gang of thieves sped around in stolen vehicles. The situation was so bad that we had six flights either diverted from or disrupted at Townsville Airport due to the police calling on the use of the Townsville-based rescue helicopter to track the offenders in commercial airspace. When we have persons carjacking for joyrides and threatening others with syringes, this should be enough evidence to show we aren’t dealing with a first time offender anymore,” he said.

“The people of Townsville have had a gutful of criminals who continue to prey on the innocent and ruin their lives and livelihoods. These hardened criminals have zero regard for public safety and human life. It’s time for the State Labor Government to admit their law enforcement policies are not working, put aside political differences and work with the KAP and other parties in trying to find a fix urgently before Townsville descends further into chaos. The solution is much like the problem - way bigger than petty politics.”

Other community leaders and government agencies would also be asked to participate in the meeting with a firm plan of action to be implemented immediately after.

“I can’t say I have all the answers but I do firmly believe that the KAP’s Relocation Sentencing polic should be adopted to remove these hardened young criminals out of the existing youth justice system,” Mr Dametto said.

"This plan would see juveniles spend their time of incarceration in a harsh, remote location designed to break down and retrain such offenders. It’s time to also revisit mandatory sentencing for adults where property crime is concerned. I would support a “three strikes and you’re out policy”.

I’m all for rehabilitation but let me tell you something, if you’ve been caught stealing a car or committing property crime a third time, then obviously the message isn’t getting through.

“It has also been suggested to me the relocation and retraining of whole family units may need to be considered if we are ever going to break the intergenerational crime cycle.”

Mr Dametto feared a situation where the driver of a stolen vehicle kills an unsuspecting bystander or that fed up residents could soon take matters into their own hands against criminals resulting in “serious injury or worse”.

“As a victim of property crime myself, I share the anger residents have with what is going on in our region. People are at their wits’ end dealing with this rubbish that is caused by a few. Residents have told me they do not feel safe on the streets, let alone in their own homes. Right now, tensions are at boiling point and it would not take much to set off this powderkeg, the likes of which we have not seen since Western Australia’s Kalgoorlie riots in 2016.

“The police are doing all they can but they are hamstrung by the weak penalties of our justice system which effectively gives criminals a slap on the wrist. We need to get on top of this problem as quickly as possible.”

Mr Dametto told Qld Parliament last week that he feared North Queenslanders were now living in a “gangsters’ paradise”.

The MP shared a deeply personal account of his mother being held at knifepoint at a service station some years ago as an example of the long-lasting impact crime can have on victims.

“My mother lost 12 months of her life because of the stress that put on her,” he said.

“These people are out there taking that away from people. They do not deserve to be out there. If we do not come down hard on crime, all we are creating is a gangsters’ paradise for the perpetrators.”

According to the Queensland Government Statistician’s Office Crime Report, there were more than 240,000 reported property offences in Queensland during 2017 18.

Mr Dametto said he would be be writing to Townsville’s three sitting MPs, government leaders and the heads of relevant governments agencies asking them to join forces on tackling crime.

EARLIER | Police continue to investigate after a number of stolen vehicles were driven dangerously across Townsville on Monday, impacting operations at the airport.

Just after 10:00AM a black Range Rover and Gold Nissan Navara ute, that had been stolen on the weekend, were seen travelling through Townsville in convoy committing a number of traffic offences, including a hit and run.

Watch vision below.  

Police were called to Belgian Gardens at 10.00AM after hearing the occupants of the Range Rover tried to drag a woman from her vehicle in an attempt to steal it, however were unsuccessful.

A short time later around 10.15AM the same Range Rover was involved in the theft of a white VW Amarok on Johnson Street, Mundingburra where the owner of the vehicle was threatened with a syringe.

Police then commenced a short pursuit of the Navara ute before terminating due to the manner of driving. A QG Air helicopter with police on board then began tracking the ute.

A number of tyre deflation device sites were established however the Navara managed to dodge them.

QG Air was stood down from further involvement due to the risk of impacting on operations at the Townsville Airport and the Navara continued to be seen driving throughout Townsville.

Anyone who may know the Navara’s whereabouts (registration 771YBQ, similar to pictured below) is urged to not approach the vehicle and call Triple Zero. The ute was stolen from Castle Hill on October 20.

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The Range Rover and the Amarok were located abandoned with the occupants having fled the scene.

Townsville District Criminal Investigation Branch have commenced dedicated operations (via the Property Crime Unit) to identify the offenders and prefer appropriate charges.

It's believed as many as 10 youths may be involved.  

Outraged Burdekin MP Dale Last hasn't minced his words, describing the actions of the group behind a string of carjackings as a disgrace.  

Mr Last said "this Premier needs to drag her useless Police Minister to Townsville and front that community and explain what they are going to do about juvenile crime in that city, these little grubs belong in jail, make no mistake about that".

"It has put innocent people's lives as risk, the emergency services, the police officers involved, it's put their lives at risk, it simply highlights that crime and in particular juvenile crime in Townsville is out of control" he said.  

No one has been caught and no charges have been laid.

EARLIER | A flight from Brisbane to Townsville has been diverted due to a police chase.  

The Virgin Flight has been sent to Mackay instead, following a confirmed and suspected carjacking in Townsville.  

 

EARLIER | There has been one attempted carjacking and another suspected carjacking in the Townsville region overnight.  

There have been 52 sightings or jobs that are currently on the system relating to the carjackings.

It all started around 5:00AM on Monday.  

The youths are accused of trying to carjack a black Range Rover on Primrose Street in Belgian Gardens at 10:00AM.  

It is believed that they are currently travelling in a white VW Nissan Amarok.

Police believe a Gold Nissan Nivara is also being used by the offenders.  That vehicle was spotted on Fitzroy Street, Heatley.

It's believed a Range Rover was dumped earlier and the offenders got into a new car.

No one has been arrested and no one had been injured as of 11:00AM.  

Police are urging anyone who spots soneone driving eratically to contact them.