Five Lankans held as Melbourne police bust pickpocketing ring

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A gang of suspected pickpockets, including Sri Lankan nationals, who allegedly targeted public transport users and shoppers in Melbourne’s Central Business District over the last two months has been charged by police.

Four men and three women – including five Sri Lankan and two Indian nationals all aged between 25 and 38 – were charged with theft-related offences following a spate of incidents on train and tram networks and at popular city shopping precincts over the last two months.

Four of the seven suspects were arrested in Sunshine and Tarneit on Thursday morning, while the remaining three were arrested in Albion on Tuesday last week.

All were granted bail and will appear at Melbourne Magistrates Court on April 14.

Speaking on radio station 3AW, Victoria Police spokeswoman Melissa Seach said the Australian Border Force “may look at” deporting the foreign nationals.

The investigation was led by detectives from the Melbourne Tasking Unit as part of Operation Galeforce.
“We investigated a series of organised and often opportunistic pickpocketing and thefts which were occurring for approximately two months across the city, in shopping precincts and on trams and trains,” Sergeant Chris O’Brien said.

“Rest assured Victoria Police takes this type of offending seriously, and our message to anyone out there looking to prey on those going about their everyday business is that you will be arrested and held to account.”