SPECIAL REPORT BLING RING RUN BY VUITTON VILLAINS
Bring 17-year-old Police fear new laws that justice system will offenders into the youth it to the law give teens a licence to stick
THEY’RE the “Vuitton Villains” terrorising Brisbane’s northside, with members facing at least 1000 charges from a two-year crime spree.
The 50-member street gang of teens aged between 14 and 17 is targeting luxury homes and stealing cars, cash and jewellery to fund lavish lifestyles.
Their 17-year-old ringleader sells stolen cars worth up to $100,000 to members for $500 so he can buy designer clothes, alcohol and throw parties in hotel rooms.
A six-month investigation by 7 News into the gang reveals that police are struggling to stop them.
Police say that every member of the group is a repeat offender and the juveniles laugh at the justice system and get “no real penalty” for their often violent and criminal behaviour.
Police repeatedly target and charge gang members, but they reoffend while on bail, with detention and court penalties failing to deter them.
And they fear new laws that bring Queensland 17-year-old offenders into the youth justice system from tomorrow will give teens a free ride for an extra year.
“Now with 17year-olds being treated as juveniles instead of adults, it will give them another year to offend with anonymity and without ramifications,’’ a police officer told 7 News.
The network obtained a confidential Queensland Police report that shows a spike in juvenile offending, with kids using social media to connect and plan crime.
The gang uses cars to joyride at dangerous speeds and commit other offences.
They often taunt police to chase them and have rammed police cars to avoid capture. Some members use their illgotten gains to buy the drug ice.
One gang member told 7 News they were a “group of boys, falling into the wrong path doing the wrong things I guess”.
“(We) just do it for the money and the thrill, the adrenalin…” said the member, who cannot be identified as he is a juvenile offender.
Police say they are escalating from sneak-in breaks at night to brazen daylight smash and grabs.
The confidential police report identifies factors driving crime in Queensland over the last two financial years.
It also revealed that while official statistics over the past eight years showed the number of juvenile offenders was stable, Queensland police reporting shows “significant fluctuations”.
“Across a number of crime types, there is an increase in the number of unique juvenile offenders. Similarly, juveniles are forming a growing proportion of offenders and as a group are committing increasing numbers of offences,” the report says.
“Social media may be one factor driving the increased number, and possible capability, of unlawful entry juvennile offenders.
“Juvenile offenders in n Moreton District have been n observed to connect on social al media to expand criminal social networks, boast about illegal activities and encourage others on the commission of online offences,” it says.
The three key crime areas are robberies, break-ins and car theft.
The number of juvenile offenders committing robberies jumped 33 per cent between the 2015/16 financial year from 2016/17. In comparison, adult offenders recorded a 12 per cent rise.
And the report reveals crimes involving juvenile females are increasing, with teenage girls responsible for 27 per cent of young offenders committing robberies.
Youths are more likely to reoffend than adults while on bail, according to information from the Toowoomba police district, the report found.
“Across all offenders, reoffending was at a rate of one in every three offenders while on bail – for juveniles more than half reoffended.”
A Anecdotal information suggests juveniles on bail were reoffending.
“If this is occurring, the lack of consequences for their behaviour will not only encourage those offenders to keep offending, but may encourage others to become involved in criminal activities as well,’’ according to report on understanding what drives juvenile crime.
QUT School of Justice and Law Professor Kerry Carrington said that most young people were law-abiding and those who did of- fend, often did it t only once.
Professor Car- rington told 7 News s that there needed d to be many more e alternatives to o detention like e youth conferenc- ing and commun- ity intervention.
Brisbane e Youth Advocacy Centre Director Janet Wright t said that less s than 1 per cent t of juvenile offenders will appear in court.
“We have to put youth crime and youth offending into context…,” she told 7 News.
Ms Wright said most juvenile offenders were involved in drugs, skipped school, experienced domestic violence and were known to the Child Safety department.
Police willing to speak on the issue said that a majority of them do not want to see kids behind bars.
“We don’t want to lock them up, we just don’t want them to commit crimes and
h ha rm themselves or others,” they said.
“Most of the time, the families know us by name and we know them by name. But it’s not just up to us.
“In many cases, by the time we take them to court, it’s after multiple dealings with police, but with some, it gets to a point where we cannot stop them,” they said.
In one case, a female juvenile offender was given probation over and over throughout a five-year crime spree that saw her go from a property crime offender at 12 years old to a violent car thief and carjacker four years later. The girl was released from her second stint in juvenile detention after serving only a fifth of her sentence late last year. She was serving time for robbery, burglary and car theft.
In the past month, she has been charged with stealing a luxury car, which she rolled, an attempted carjacking and carjacking.
Some police told 7 News that they do everything possible to stop juveniles going to court “because that’s where the system lets them down”.
‘ ( WE) JUST DO IT FOR THE MONEY AND THE THRILL, THE ADRENALIN’
CRIME SPREE: SP Social media boasts posted by Brisbane’s teen gangsters.