Inside the Westfield where crime’s so bad cops had to start patrolling on horseback – as offences at shopping centres skyrocket by 90 per cent
- Westfield Fountain Gate in Melbourne’s southeast has become a crime hotspot
- Offences at the centre increased by 104 per cent from 2014 to the end of 2019
- Victoria police forced to increase their presence in and around the area
- Violent crimes in shopping centres increased by almost 90 per cent since 2015
Crimes committed at a Westfield shopping centre in Melbourne have become so serious that police have been forced to patrol the area on horseback to keep patrons safe.
The Fountain Gate centre in Narre Warren in Melbourne’s southeast has seen offences increase by 104 per cent from 2014 to the end of 2019, with crimes growing from 448 incidents to 914, Victorian Crime Statistics Agency data showed.
Criminal activity has become such a problem in and around shopping centres that Victorian police have had to increase regular patrols and launch several investigations, with data showing offences have increased by 90 per cent over the past five years.
Westfield Fountain Gate recorded the highest number of offences in the state, but it’s just the tip of the iceberg.
More than 14 crimes were committed each day at Melbourne shopping centres in 2019, two of which were violent.
Westfield Fountain Gate (pictured) in Narre Warren in Melbourne’s southeast have seen offences increase by 104 per cent from 2014 to the end of 2019
The Westfield Geelong centre southwest of Melbourne is another crime hot spot, with 330 criminal offences recorded from 2018 to 2019.
Of the offences, 245 involved property and deception, which includes stealing products from stores, and 38 were more violent crimes.
The data also shows 20 public order and security offences were reported at the shopping centre, consisting of crimes such as disorderly and offensive conduct and public nuisance and security offences.
Figures show 843 crimes were committed at the Northland Shopping Centre in Preston in the five years to the end of 2019, while Southland in Cheltenham had 567 offences.
Crimes have become such a problem in and around shopping centres that Victoria police have increased regular patrols and executed several investigations – as data showed offences have increased by 90 per cent over the past five years
Though individual instances of violent crimes aren’t as high, Chadstone shopping centre in the city’s east saw violence offences increas by 117 per cent, the highest recorded.
This was followed by an increase of 105 per cent at the Eastland shopping centre in Ringwood.
Victoria Police spokeswoman Amelia Penhall said investigations like Operation Tidal in Narre Warren are being executed to curb shopping centre crime.
‘Since Operation Tidal commenced in April last year, police have made more than 1000 arrests,’ Ms Penhall told the Herald Sun.
‘Operation Tidal is ongoing and police will continue to arrest and charge offenders as required.
‘We are committed to addressing youth related offending with a focus on robberies, public order offending and vehicle crime linked to serious offending.’
Westfield Geelong (pictured) southwest of Melbourne recorded 330 criminal offences from 2018-2019
The shocking figures come after Solomone Taufeulungaki, 15, died after he was allegedly attacked by a group of youths outside the Brimbank Shopping Centre in Melbourne’s west at about 4pm on June 16.
He and his cousin were allegedly approached by a group of about 10 youths armed with knives.
‘Detectives believe the fatal affray was as a result of tensions between two youth gangs in the western suburbs and have identified the gangs involved,’ Victoria Police said in a statement calling for public help.
Investigators are also looking at an assault that occurred at the Brimbank Shopping Centre the day before Solomone was killed.
More than 14 crimes were committed each day at Melbourne shopping centres in 2019, two of which could be deemed violent (stock image)