Inspector Scott Stahlhut spoke to the media outside District Headquarters in Toowoomba on Wednesday

November 22, 2023

A crackdown by police has resulted in 25 arrests following a recent spate of car thefts and break-ins in the Murgon area.

Inspector Scott Stahlhut, from the South Burnett Patrol Group, said Taskforce Guardian had been deployed in the South Burnett in response to the increase in crime, in particular incidents involving juveniles.

The latest was an attempted daylight robbery in Murgon on Tuesday.

Three young people had been arrested shortly afterwards.

Eight officers from Taskforce Guardian joined local detectives and uniformed police in Murgon, Cherbourg, Wondai and Kingaroy between November 14-21.

Inspector Stahlhut said the focus had been on the impact the offending had caused the victims of crime, as well as community safety.

“This operation was really about holding offenders to account,” he said.

“As a result, investigations identified 25 juveniles in the South Burnett alleged to have committed 102 offences.”

Fifteen of these had been charged and would face court, while 10 were dealt with under provisions of the Youth Justice Act.

“Some of the offences which have occurred have been perpetrated by some young people not from the area who have returned to area,” Inspector Stahlhut said,

The 102 offences comprised 18 counts of unlawful entry, nine counts of unlawful use of a motor vehicle, 35 charges related to other property offences, one robbery charge, three counts of assault, 16 counts of breach of bail and 20 other offences.

Inspector Stahlhut said there had been instances of very young people driving dangerously, and sometimes under the influence of illicit drugs or other substances.

There was significant risk in how police managed this, he said.

“It’s about looking after the welfare of the community as much as looking after that young person,” Inspector Stahlhut said.

“A vehicle can become weaponised when it’s being operated by a person whose either young, inexperienced or adversely affected.”

A key component of the Taskforce Guardian intervention had been “high visibility” patrols both on foot and mobile, as well as curfew and bail checks.

Patrols had been conducted near hotels, industrial areas, schools and other areas connected to recent property crimes and anti-social behaviour.

The Taskforce, in conjunction with local detectives and Youth Justice workers, also completed 13 street checks and engaged with a number of local businesses and community members.

Taskforce Guardian can be sent anywhere in Queensland at any time.

Inspector Stahlhut said the deployment had followed on from Operation Pandora in Murgon and Cherbourg where a total of 17 adults and children had been charged with 143 offences.

“Specialist personnel will continue to be deployed in the area to supplement our local resources,” he said.

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