Further four children arrested following Ballarat and Mill Park arson attacks

Friday 14 March 2024 1:23pm – 

Detectives from Taskforce Lunar have arrested an additional four children this morning as part of their investigation into several incidents linked to the ongoing tobacco dispute.

With assistance from the Gang Crime Squad, the VIPER Taskforce and the Southern Metro Regional Crime Squads, warrants were executed simultaneously at five residential addresses in Springvale, Princess Hill, Cranbourne East, Brighton East and Preston at about 7 am this morning.

Four boys have now been arrested and will be interviewed by police. They include:

  • A 16-year-old Springvale boy,
  • A 14-year-old Princess Hill boy,
  • A 17-year-old Cranbourne East boy, and
  • A 16-year-old Preston boy.

In addition to the four children previously charged, investigators will now interview the four boys in relation to an aggravated burglary in Wonga Park, as well as two arson attacks at a Mill Park restaurant and a tobacconist in Ballarat last month.

A white Isuzu D Max and a silver Ford Ranger were stolen during an aggravated burglary in Wonga Park between 10pm on Monday 19 and 7am on Tuesday, 20 February.

The Ford Ranger was then utilised in an arson attack at a reception centre in Thomastown on Thursday, 22 February.

It was later located burnt out in Bundoora.

A 20-year-old St Albans man was charged last week (Thursday, 29 February) in relation to that incident.

On Tuesday, 27 February about 3.40am, the Isuzu D Max was involved in an attempted arson at a Mill Park restaurant on The Link.

The D Max reversed towards the front door of the premises, and a number of offenders exited the vehicle, with one reaching back in to remove a jerry can.

A witness observed the vehicle and ran towards the scene, causing the offenders to flee.

The same vehicle was then used the following day in an arson attack at a tobacconist on Sturt Street in Ballarat at about 3.35am.

The store was significantly damaged during the incident.

A short time later, the vehicle was located burnt out on Eureka Street. A second vehicle, a stolen BMW X1 bearing stolen plates, was captured on CCTV in convoy with the Isuzu.

The BMW was seized from a Springvale address during last week’s warrants.

Four children, a 15-year-old Springvale boy, a 14-year-old Mulgrave boy, a 16-year-old Mulgrave girl, and a 16-year-old Pakenham girl, were charged last week (Friday, 1 March) as part of the investigation into the incidents.

The investigation remains ongoing.

Anyone with information on any organised crime activity is urged to contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000 or www.crimestoppersvic.com.au.