A FEARFUL community has reacted critically on social media following the arrest and subsequent release of three teens in relation to Wonthaggi’s arson attacks.
Detectives from Bass Coast Crime Investigation Unit (CIU) and the Arson and Explosives Squad executed six arrest warrants in last Wednesday, taking three males, aged 18, 15 and 13, into custody.
A media release from Victoria Police headquarters spread through news outlets and Facebook, giving the impression the elusive culprits might have finally been caught.
But less than a few hours later, word filtered through the same channels that all three males had been released and were “continuing to assist police with their enquiries”.
The reaction from several members of the public on the Sentinel-Times’ Facebook page was swift.
“Next time, I hope you have charged and held persons before you tell everybody you have caught them,” one person wrote.
“The police should never have released the media statement….it (has) created conflicting reports and ridiculous rumours such as they are out on bail,” wrote another.
Bass Coast CIU detective Adrian Condron told ABC Radio the following morning that 15 officers executed the warrants at 7.30am – a time which would have ensured the youths had not yet left for school.
“The community has expressed a lot of apprehension about what is going on and concern about the number of fires in a confined area of town,” Det Condron said.
“This has been about reassuring the community that it’s safe.
“Interviews were conducted while adults were present.
“No charges have been laid.
“Three people were released from custody and are continuing to assist us with our inquiries.
“With the intelligence we have gained from them, hopefully it will lead to further arrests.”
Another CIU detective, Snr Constable Liza Burrows, said information gained from the interviews was “valuable” and regular police patrols of Wonthaggi south, by both marked and unmarked vehicles, will continue.
Anyone with information is urged to contact Wonthaggi Police on 5671 4100 or Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.