11 January 2021

Burnout hoons face big fines and vehicles seized, say police

| Ian Bushnell
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Burnout in Braddon

Smoke and thunder in Lonsdale Street, Braddon on Friday night. Photo: Snapchat.

Police have warned those behind the burnouts in parts of Canberra and across the border at Eaglehawk on the weekend that they can expect a fast and furious response if they repeat their dangerous behaviour.

Detective Inspector Adrian Craft said police were monitoring social media and would be well prepared for any fresh attempt to take over Canberra streets again.

”People can expect the police to respond accordingly, as firmly and as quickly as we can,” he said.

He admitted Friday night’s gatherings in Braddon, Fyshwick and Hume had surprised police but said they would not be caught off guard again.

READ MORE Burnouts close Lonsdale St as police grapple with unregulated cruising, antisocial behaviour

With Summernats cancelled due to COVID-19, police had not planned for the potential incidents usually associated with the annual car festival and were overwhelmed on Friday night when a bottle was thrown into the rear windscreen of a retreating police vehicle.

At Hume, in what Detective Inspector Craft called an act of ”breathtaking stupidity”, a firecracker was let off at a service station.

But on Saturday night, police, armed with information from social media, marshalled their forces quickly to disperse similar unofficial cruises and burn-outs in the city, and again in Fyshwick where an estimated 1,000 people had gathered and police seized two vehicles.

No arrests have been made, but police were combing through CCTV and social media videos to identify ACT offenders who could face charges, big fines and have their vehicles seized.

Detective Inspector Craft said the burnout hoons should not be confused with those who organised the successful ‘Claytons Cruise’ last week.

”There is a dedicated group of people I would call genuine car enthusiasts in the ACT who are very proud of their vehicles and want to show them off to the public,” Detective Inspector Craft said.

”Then there is a collection of people whose expectations of their driving abilities exceed what they can actually do, and think they live in an episode of The Fast and The Furious, and think it’s OK to take over city streets and perform dangerous road manoeuvres.

”It’s a cohort of people who coordinate through social media in deliberate attempts to take over public streets.”

Detective Inspector Craft said people could have been easily injured or killed, and the actions of a not insignificant group of people were affecting the good intentions of others.

”Vehicles doing burnouts were surrounded by people within touching distance, and all that has to happen is that a vehicle gains traction for a millisecond and all of sudden you’re going to have five or six people run over, with serious injuries and possible deaths,” he said.

Detective Inspector Craft said the lack of a Summernats this year or a regulated motorsport facility were no excuses for dangerous behaviour.

He rejected calls for tougher laws, saying people simply need to follow the existing law, grow up, and apply common sense.

READ ALSO Government needs to recharge e-scooter rules as careless behaviour drains community goodwill

Vice President of the Council of ACT Motor Clubs Mark Saunders has characterised the trouble makers as “people on the periphery” who were unlikely to be members of local car clubs.

“Most people in the car community have recognised that Summernats couldn’t proceed and we’ve been focused on supporting other events where possible. The ACT Street Machine Association is active every month and we run a few small events like my hot rod club runs and the rod and custom cruise on Australia Day,” he said.

“Most people are very sensible and just want to enjoy time with their friends in the community.”

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