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Source: State of Victoria Police

Police in Melbourne’s south east have been busy ruffling the feathers of car thieves, swooping on hundreds of vehicle crime offenders over the past year.

The Birds of Prey operation, which consists of three localised operations named Night Hawk, Night Owl and Night Eagle, has been running across Port Phillip, Stonnington, Glen Eira Bayside, Kingston, Frankston and the Mornington Peninsula.

Police have made 408 arrests and charged people with more than 2,950 vehicle crime-related offences, which includes theft of and theft from motor vehicles, as part of the three Birds of Prey operations which commenced in March 2019.

One of the more notable arrests involved Operation Night Eagle detectives from the Frankston Crime Investigation Unit arresting a 34-year-old man from Seaford who was charged with 129 offences.

This included theft of motor vehicle, theft from motor vehicle, carjacking, armed robbery, arson, assault, property damage and theft offences.

More recently, Operation Night Eagle detectives also arrested a 19-year-old man after a search warrant was executed at his property in Seaford on Tuesday 21 January.

Police searched the property and also seized a number of allegedly stolen mobile phones.

The 19-year-old man has been charged with theft of motor vehicle and handle stolen goods. He has been remanded in custody and will appear at Frankston Magistrates’ Court at a later date.

Inspector Justin Cornford said the Birds of Prey operations focused on addressing the issue of vehicle crime and the high harm, high impact offending that is often generated by these kinds of crimes.

“We know people often view theft of or theft from a motor car as low-impact crimes, however we know it frequently leads to more violent offences such as burglaries, ram raids, pursuits, and evading police,” Insp Cornford said.

“Our Birds of Prey operations show how seriously police are treating the issue of vehicle crime in Melbourne’s south eastern suburbs and our commitment to holding offenders to account.

“As part of our ongoing focus on these kinds of crimes, we’re using a mix of general duties police, detectives from the crime investigation units and officers from the frontline tactical and divisional response units to tackle vehicle crime in Melbourne’s south east.

“These officers are consistently targeting known hot-spots based on current intelligence and actively monitoring persons of interest.

“We are also utilising Automated Number Plate Recognition technology to identify false registration plates, stolen vehicles and people wanted on outstanding warrants.

“While police are working hard to stop vehicle crime offenders in their tracks, we also want to remind the community about the importance of reporting any vehicle crime incidents as soon as they can.

“It’s crucial that police have the opportunity to attend the scene as quickly as possible to potentially locate and arrest the offenders, as well as collecting valuable evidence.

“Even if you think it’s insignificant, you never know what kind of information can help police solve a crime.

Police are also imploring people to reduce their risk of falling victim by locking your car at all times – even when parking at home in the driveway or garage, securing your keys, not leaving valuable items in your vehicle, and reporting suspicious behaviour to police.

Night Hawk, Night Owl and Night Eagle are ongoing operations and will continue to run throughout Melbourne’s south east.

If you need immediate police assistance always call Triple Zero (000). Report any suspicious behaviour to your local police station or Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.

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