ACT Policing has revealed that the notorious Finks motorcycle gang has established itself in Canberra, with up to 10 gang members settling in the ACT.
In an interview with the ABC, ACT Chief Police Officer Justine Saunders said police had evidence the gang had settled in Canberra, which increased the number of criminal gangs in the ACT from three to four, joining the Comancheros, Nomads and Rebels.
Ms Saunders said the increased presence of gangs in the ACT was keeping her awake at night, because of their serious organised criminal activity, violence and use of firearms, pointing to an incident last week in Ngunnawal in which a house was shot at.
“Over recent weeks, my concern has only grown because unfortunately, we now have evidence that suggests the Finks motorcycle gang is establishing itself here in Canberra,” she said.
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Ms Saunders said there were no specifics about where the gang had established itself.
ACT Policing reports suggest there are 10 members in the ACT, but that is not what worries Ms Saunders.
“My concern is not so much the 10 members here in Canberra, but the relationship they have with the broader criminal network, nationally and internationally,” she said.
“We know they are engaged in a whole range of serious criminal activity.”
Ms Saunders is concerned about the innocent families that will be affected by the added bikie tension and rivalry. She said her fears were realised when an innocent family was caught up in the gang shooting last week.
“Last week, there was an incident where shots were fired into a residence in Ngunnawal. The residence was the previous home of a Comanchero member but it is not anymore. It is a family home, a completely innocent family,” Ms Saunders said.
“There have been no arrests from that incident, and the investigation is ongoing, but we have undertaken two search warrants as a result of that activity.”
ACT Policing said the offenders discharged a firearm several times and set fire to the front door of the house as they fled the scene late on Tuesday, 19 June. ACT Policing is urging anyone who saw a silver utility or suspicious activity in the Ngunnawal area, or has information or video footage that could assist police, to contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.
Ms Saunders said a key focus for police was continuing to confiscate the proceeds of crime to disrupt gang activities.
“We continue to look at the full extent of the criminal activity that these organised crime gangs are involved in, so a key focus for us is targeting the driver for their activities, which is their wealth,” she said.
“This year alone, we have restrained 10 homes, 18 vehicles, and approximately $300,000 in cash currently in the process of being restrained. We will continue to focus on this area.”
Ms Saunders reiterated calls for greater police powers including anti-consorting laws and fears if these powers are not increased, more gangs and members will continue to come to the ACT.
“I have said consistently, and I will continue to say, police need preventative powers to ensure that we can prevent this sort of crime occurring where we can,” she said.
“What is critically important is that we have nationally consistent laws in dealing with what is a national issue. I am really keen to explore preventative powers which are proportionate and which will meet community expectations.”
Liberal spokesperson Jeremy Hanson said the lack of action from the Government was incredibly frustrating and reiterated the need to protect the community with tough laws similar to other jurisdictions.
“When we first called for these laws, Canberra only had one outlaw bikie gang. Now we have more gangs than ever, and innocent people are getting caught up in the violence,” Mr Hanson said.
“For years we have been warning of the dangers, and calling for preventative laws. Last year we presented anti-consorting laws that were checked as being human rights compliant. But at every stage, Labor and the Greens have blocked the passing of these laws.”
Mr Hanson said he shared the concerns of the Chief Police Officer and believes without these laws, it will get worse.
“With the raids in other states, it’s blindingly obvious that illegal gangs will move to places where preventative laws do not exist – right here,” he said.
“I am sick of Canberra being a soft target for these groups.
“I put the Government on notice – without these laws, it is just a matter of time before someone is maimed or killed, and the blame will rest squarely on the Government for its disgraceful refusal to protect our community with laws other states have to protect them.”