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Police hit the streets as crowds return to the Southbank precinct

Brendan Rees

The commander of Southbank Police Station says more officers are hitting the streets as foot traffic soared in recent weeks, particularly as major events such as the Moomba Festival attracted big crowds.

Senior Sergeant Alex O’Toole said police had more resources on hand to deter crime and keep the community safe as officers began finishing up hotel quarantine duties.

“It’s definitely been busier; we’ve noticed people have come back into the city and there’s a lot more pedestrian traffic,” she said.

“Crime hasn’t skyrocketed but it’s obviously increased in line with people coming back into the city.”

It comes as the Homicide Squad investigates the circumstances surrounding an incident where a 29-year-old Mentone man died following reports of an assault at Crown Casino food court about 12.20am on March 27. 

The victim was taken to hospital in a critical condition but died hours later.

A 26-year-old Highton man has been charged with recklessly causing injury and was bailed to appear at Melbourne Magistrates’ Court on August 31.

A 29-year-old Colac man was released pending further enquiries after being arrested.

“The exact circumstances regarding the incident are still to be determined and police will also await the results of a post-mortem examination,” a police spokesperson said.

Anyone who witnessed the incident or who has other information can contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000 or submit a report at crimestoppers.com.au

Snr Sgt O’Toole said while she couldn’t comment on the Crown incident as the investigation was being led by Homicide Squad, she urged the public to be vigilant while more people gathered in the city and surrounding suburbs – with officers seeing a rise in motor vehicle break-ins and thefts.

“It’s mainly because of our demographic, we’ve got a lot of residential tower buildings and unfortunately that’s a bit of a paradise for people to come in and start stealing so that is an issue for us.”

To deter opportunistic thieves, Sen Sgt O’Toole said, “locking your car is a must as well as removing valuables from your vehicles or not having them on show.”

“Don’t let people tailgate you into the carpark and don’t let strangers tailgate when you’re walking into buildings.”

Meanwhile, Snr Sgt O’Toole said police had also seen a jump in family violence which she couldn’t be sure if it was a “link at all to do with people consuming alcohol or going out” but added, “that’s been an increase for us.”

But most concerning for police, she said, was the amount of people carrying knives. 

“During our public order management operations in the city, police continue to seize knives.”

“It’s pretty frightening. There has definitely been an increase in knives; people are only supposed to carry knives for a few lawful excuses [but] knives are readily available for anyone to buy – that’s the difference.”

In recent weeks, a 15-year-old was stabbed at Flinders Street Station; an 18-year-old was injured after being attacked by a thug with a knife; and a 23-year-old man, who had travelled from Western Australia to Docklands to celebrate a birthday, was killed after being stabbed with a knife.

According to data from The Alfred hospital, the largest trauma centre in Australia, the number of patients who had life threatening stab wounds had jumped by 50 per cent from December to February compared to previous year. There were 21 patients treated each month, mostly men aged 25 to 40 •

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