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Intimidating ‘swarming’ thefts: 11 teens arrested in a week

Run-through thefts, where groups of offenders swarm shops and steal goods before running off with them, are on the rise in Melbourne.

Last night seven teenagers, aged 14 to 16, were arrested for swarming thefts, bringing the number arrested for such crimes this week to 11.

Victoria Police Commander Tim Hansen said this style of theft is relatively new.

“Since late last year we’ve started seeing this new methodology where young offenders, clearly coordinated and clearly working together, walk in en masse to retail premises,” he told 3AW’s Neil Mitchell.

“By their sheer presence and their dynamic entry they create a whole lot of fear and are quite intimidating, and then they go about just stealing whatever items they’re after.”

The thefts are highly organised and police believe they may be part of a larger criminal operation.

Commander Hansen said there are concerns older handlers are “commissioning the offenders and giving them almost a shopping list of what they’re after, so they can on-sell”.

Some of the arrested teenagers have criminal records, but it is the first offence for many.

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