NEW GANG ALERT

Sib­lings of vi­o­lent of­fend­ers now me­nace suburbs

Sunday Herald Sun - - Front Page - GENEVIEVE AL­I­SON AND AN­DREA HAM­BLIN

A NEW youth gang call­ing it­self BDK — “Blood Drill Killers” — has been linked to a spate of rob­beries and brawls in St Al­bans and on Mel­bourne’s bay­side.

Po­lice are try­ing to smash the gang and lock up as many of­fend­ers as pos­si­ble be­fore New Year’s Eve, amid fears its young mem­bers are be­com­ing in­creas­ingly vi­o­lent. Some are aged just 14.

The Sun­day Her­ald Sun has been told mem­bers of the gang, mostly com­pris­ing teenage boys of African back­ground, are younger brothers of more “hard­core” groups Me­nace to So­ci­ety and Apex.

Vic­to­ria Po­lice is so con­cerned about the gang’s es­ca­lat­ing be­hav­iour that on Fri­day se­nior com­mand re­quested strict bail con­di­tions for a 17-year-old al­leged as­so­ciate.

An as­sis­tant com­mis­sioner asked that the teen be banned from Mel­bourne’s western suburbs where BDK

mem­bers are known to roam. Po­lice have iden­ti­fied sev­eral BDK mem­bers dur­ing in­ves­ti­ga­tions into a vi­o­lent brawl in St Al­bans last week which left one man in hos­pi­tal.

The Sun­day Her­ald Sun has learned sev­eral young BDK mem­bers also helped older Me­nace to So­ci­ety mem­bers dur­ing brazen rob­beries and as­saults com­mit­ted on the St Kilda fore­shore in re­cent weeks.

Most of the youths who claim to be BDK mem­bers are be­lieved to have met at school and through fam­ily links, and tend to mo­bilise through so­cial me­dia.

A young as­so­ciate re­cently filmed po­lice raid­ing his home and up­loaded the footage to the gang’s Snapchat ac­count, which de­tec­tives have been watch­ing.

The 17-year-old was among eight youths who fronted a chil­dren’s court on Fri­day charged with rob­bery and af­fray fol­low­ing two in­ci­dents in St Al­bans this month.

Po­lice ar­gued against the boy’s re­lease, fear­ing he would meet up with mem­bers of BDK who were in­volved in a vi­o­lent Christ­mas Eve clash with Viet­namese traders on Al­frieda St in St Al­bans.

A de­tec­tive from the Way­ward Task­force, which tar­gets youth of­fend­ing, told the court the teen rep­re­sented an un­ac­cept­able risk of re­of­fend­ing and en­dan­ger­ing the safety of the pub­lic.

“I’m con­cerned that if he is re­leased he will join up with those other mem­bers of BDK and en­gage in (an­other) af­fray at (Al­frieda St),” he said.

The boy was charged with rob­bery af­ter he and four other youths al­legedly stole a man’s phone and wal­let and kicked and punched him in the head on De­cem­ber 19. He is not be­lieved to have been in­volved in the brawl five days later.

Pros­e­cu­tors told the court an as­sis­tant com­mis­sioner had asked that the boy be banned from the en­tire City of Brim­bank, which in­cludes St Al­bans and Sun­shine — ar­eas fre­quented by BDK.

He was even­tu­ally granted bail with the con­di­tion he not en­ter St Al­bans.

BDK is con­sid­ered less dan­ger­ous than MTS, whose mem­bers are older. BDK has no for­mal mem­ber­ship and mem­bers fo­cus on pick­pock­et­ing and less-se­ri­ous crimes such as phone rob­beries.

But there are fears of es­ca­lat­ing vi­o­lence as seen in the St Al­bans fight, in which wooden bats and chairs were used as weapons.

It’s un­der­stood po­lice in the western suburbs reg­u­larly “en­gage” with mem­bers and as­so­ci­ates of the gang, some­times sev­eral times a week.

Po­lice are gath­er­ing in­tel­li­gence about youths who make plans to travel to pop­u­lar fore­shores to ter­rorise beach­go­ers and em­bark on rob­bery sprees.

The Sun­day Her­ald Sun has con­firmed a Me­nace to So­ci­ety ring­leader was among a group of youths who vi­o­lently at­tacked beach­go­ers in St Kilda in re­cent weeks.

St Kilda, Chelsea and Al­tona fore­shores are a fo­cus of po­lice op­er­a­tions to stamp out sum­mer thug­gery.

On Fri­day a fight broke out at St Kilda fore­shore when ac­tivist Neil Erik­son — linked to the United Pa­tri­ots Front — filmed young men of African ap­pear­ance de­spite po­lice re­quests to move on.

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