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Home invasion suspects show 'no signs of slowing down', police say

Wednesday 29th May 2019
By: Rachel Eddie, The Age

Three teenagers wanted over a violent two-night home invasion and car theft spree have been in custody before and have shown no signs of slowing down, police say.

Police Commander Stuart Bateson told radio station 3AW that detectives had spoken to the teenagers' families and have asked them for help catching the suspected offenders.

The youths allegedly smashed their way into homes in Mernda, Bentleigh East and Derrimut, threatened and assaulted residents, and carjacked a young mother in a city-wide rampage that began on Sunday night and continued into Tuesday morning.

One of the alleged offenders was arrested on Tuesday but three others are still on the run.

Shepparton man Ali Sari, 18, has been identified as one of the suspects. Police have released an image of him and are calling on Mr Sari to hand himself in.

Two 17-year-olds are also wanted over the home invasions and carjacking.

The fourth alleged offender, a 17-year-old from Broadmeadows, was found asleep at Corio Central shopping centre in Geelong, where a BMW X5, believed to have been stolen in the Mernda home invasion, was found in the car park.

He was charged on Tuesday night with three counts of home invasion, five counts of theft of a motor vehicle, and three counts of theft and was remanded to appear at a children's court at a later date.

Mr Bateson said the wanted teenagers had been in custody before and were "absolutely" a threat to the public but that police were "pursuing them vigorously".

"We know who the other three are, we've actually contacted their families and told them to hand themselves in," he said.

"They have been in custody before, but of course we don't have the opportunity to have them there forever. Certainly they're known to us and they've been in custody before.

"Until we get them into custody they are absolutely a threat and that's why Victoria Police has [put] so much resources into it at the moment to track them down and get them into custody.

"They've shown no signs of slowing down. The series of crimes have just been horrendous for the victims involved."

One of the home invasion victims, who asked to be identified only as Jane, told 3AW that she and her husband were bashed in a 30-minute ordeal that left them shaken, sore and scared.

Jane said four men forced their way into their home with knives, and threatened to stab or kill the terrified residents unless they handed over car keys and cash.

"We were at home and we heard these loud bangs on the back door and suddenly the door broke," Jane said.

The teenagers punched her and her husband, she claimed, and turned knives on her after holding them against her 65-year-old mother-in-law's throat.

Jane, who said she was new to Melbourne, cried as she said the ordeal has "totally changed us".

"We don't feel safe at all right now," she told 3AW.

The thieves, operating in groups of three, four or five, have allegedly held residents hostage as they ransacked their homes before stealing computers, jewellery, cash and cars.

Police described Mr Sari as being African in appearance and about 175 centimetres tall, with a medium build.

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