IN the first weekend of their crackdown on vandalism Hastings police handed out dozens of warnings and made three arrests.
The “zero tolerance” Operation Dragon was started a week ago to counter a rising tide of vandalism, especially around Somerville Secondary College in Graf Rd, where vandals recently caused $4500 damage to building equipment and a rammed earth wall, as well as smashing windows and defacing a mural by Seaford artist Tony Sowersby, just one week before its completion.
Other attacks have occurred at Somerville Rise Primary School and to community buildings.
Police said groups of teenagers roam Somerville streets late on Friday and Saturday nights “looking for trouble”, sometimes assaulting passers-by, and, in one case, threatening a police man with a bottle.
Sergeant Glenn Michie said plain clothes police had patrolled known trouble spots late on Friday and Saturday nights, detecting 15 offences and issuing mainly warnings to young offenders.
Most warnings were for underage drinking, possessing cannabis and traffic offences – mostly while riding bicycles.
“We spoke to 52 people,” Sergeant Michie said. “It was what we would term a quiet night because there were not many people about for some reason, and yet we were still able detect those offences.”
One man was arrested over an outstanding warrant during the operation, which covered Somerville, Crib Point, Tyabb and Hastings.
Two were arrested for possessing drugs of dependence and cautioned, and others for not wearing bicycle helmets.
“It was a really pleasing result. Word had got around after Friday night and one teenager even told us: ‘Everyone knows you are out here, you know’. I said to him: Well, we got you for underage possession of alcohol, so what’s your point,” Sergeant Richie said.
“We think it’s good to get the word out on social media because that will deter people from doing the wrong thing. All the reporting will make them more responsible: young people will tell their friends and then everyone will know we are out there.
“It was ironic that, when we were cautioning the youths for not wearing bicycle helmets, a car came around the corner of Graf Rd and nearly cleaned them up.”