VICTORIANS are terrified and rightfully so. Every morning they wake to news of another violent home invasion overnight. A knife held to a pensioner’s throat. Children screaming as masked men hover over their beds. Intruders using crowbars and baseball bats to terrorise homeowners.
In January and February this year, homes were broken into by armed men in Cranbourne, St Albans, Albion, Brighton, Bayswater, Skye, Mentone, Taylor’s Hill, Hillside, Ascot Vale and Geelong. As the following graphic shows, the incidents are spread across large parts of the state.
Each dot on the map is a terrifying encounter. Four of the attacks happened in just one night. The first incident took place on January 4, when a woman in her late 50s was set upon in the city’s west. She was hit across the face and forced to sit and watch as men ransacked her home. Victoria Police commander Russell Barrett said the crimes were “abhorrent” and “horrendous”. On January 30, a terminally ill woman was robbed in Ascot Vale. Mother-of-three Kellie McElligott, said thieves broke into her home through a back door around 4.30am. They took with them phones, purses and the occupant’s car. Two teens, 17 and 15, were arrested and charged after the victim’s son used the Find My iPhone app to locate his stolen phone.
In February, thieves stole phones and a car but didn’t get far. Prabhath Ponnamaneni was asleep on the couch inside a home at Albion, west of Melbourne, around 11.30pm when three men broke in and went straight for the kitchen. Once there, they grabbed the occupant’s own knives before waking him. Police say the door was unlocked and the knives were held to the victim’s throat.
The men demanded electronic equipment and car keys. Mr Ponnamaneni handed over a mobile phone and was told to unlock it and reset it. The burglars stole wallets, car keys belonging to five other occupants and the victim’s car, a Honda CRV.
They crashed it a short distance away.