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Vic Police Warn Overseas Crime Gangs At Melb Cup

Friday, 18th December 2009

Under the headline "Crime Gangs Plot Melbourne Cup Raid", The Herald-Sun this morning reports a Victorian police warning that "overseas crime gangs are ready to pounce on the Flemington racing carnival". Police intelligence "indicates a swarm of sharply dressed thieves & frauds is already in Melbourne or about to arrive to prey on the 400,000 racegoers expected to attend the 4-day racing festival". The thieves are expected to target bookmakers & "high-end jewellery stores, as well as people on the street & public transport". Police believe the gangs "are the same ones that visited from South America in the past 2 years". Inspector Paul Pottage warned: "They're like a tornado. They're really good operators. They will hit anything not nailed down." Police noted the syndicates "are regulars at major events around the world & recently hit London hard". They "never send the same gang members, travel on false passports & change accommodation daily". The "thickly-accented shysters have been known to fly in via Sydney, then drive to Melbourne, reducing the likelihood police will know they have arrived". Distraction thieving, which has surfaced in Melbourne in recent weeks, is a popular technique: one gang member spills a substance on a victim before accomplices pounce. Pottage explained: "They'll be very sorry & want to help you, while their offsider is removing your wallet. It's sleight of hand & distraction. It's a really slick operation." Police also warned Romanian card-skimming outfits & Bulgarian pick-pocket teams could be in Melbourne for the racing & into summer. Pottage said gang members had been known to "release air from a car tyre then, as one helped the unsuspecting driver change the flat, another would quietly open a door on the opposite side & steal a bag". He said the gangs "disposed of their booty quickly: property was taken to Australia Post & sent back to South America, while cash was wired home using money remitters including Western Union". (Oct 26)

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