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JB Hi-Fi heists: Cops want new laws to stop young thugs

FIRST with NEIL MITCHELL

Police want to lobby Daniel Andrews for the introduction of a new crime to help them tackle young thugs committing violent run-throughs in shops across Melbourne.

Children as young as 14 have been arrested as part of a 10-day crime spree targeting JB Hi-Fi stores.

As first detailed by Neil Mitchell on Thursday, teenage gangs have hit stores at Nunawading, Brighton, Thomastown, Knox City, Hoppers Crossing, Epping, Highpoint, South Melbourne and Essendon in recent days.

Police later confirmed 25 people had been arrested and 11 charges laid as part of an operation aimed at identifying and intervening with young offenders early.

The head of that taskforce, Commander Tim Hansen, told Neil Mitchell the law doesn’t currently treat the crimes seriously enough, making it difficult for officers to thwart the escalating violence from young crims.

“We have a view that this is at the upper end of shop stealing,” Mr Hansen said.

“So we’re building up a business case to take back to government to try and convince them of some legislative support that would bring in … an aggravated shop-stealing (crime).

“(Aggravated shop-stealing would have) a heightened penalty and some mandatory needs around bail.”

“The courts (currently) look at this as shop-stealing (and) we have a lot of problems around getting remand.

“In this cohort, they go from zero to hero quite quickly.

“Violence is their first offence, and that’s quite worrying for us.”

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