A GROUP of brazen Irish men and women accused of rorting ritzy restaurants and stealing from high-end stores across southeast Queensland are also alleged to have scammed tens of thousands of dollars from the elderly.
Queensland Police on Saturday revealed that 12 official complaints had now been levelled against the group of five men and four women on the Gold Coast and in Brisbane.
The women are accused of distracting shop attendants while their children fill prams with stolen goods, while the men allegedly scam thousands of dollars from vulnerable elderly residents.
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A special police command has now been set up to investigate the alleged crimes and find the group.
“One group involves a number of women, often up to three, who are accompanied by a number of small children, some in prams and some walking,” police said in a statement on Saturday.
“Their strategy involves disruptive and aggressive behaviour designed to distract and or intimidate staff [and] they often use large handbags and prams to hide stolen property.
“Another group involves several men who solicit for work offering discounted repairs on bitumen driveways and roofing whilst providing sub-standard services or failing to complete the work or to even turn up.”
On one occasion, two of the women are alleged to have distracted staff at a high-end shoe store in Brisbane while a young child stole a pair of expensive high-heels and stashed them in a pram.
Three of the women are also alleged to have deliberately confused a store attendant through a cash transaction in order to obtain a $50 benefit.
In a separate incident, four of the woman are accused of acting together to deceive an attendant at a supermarket on Chevron Island so that they could steal more than $100 worth of groceries.
Meanwhile, Detective Superintendent Tony Fleming said the men have so far fleeced more than $30,000 from five different elderly home owners by offering to fix their roofs and driveways.
Det Supt Flemming said the men allegedly took payments for the repairs but never finished the work.
In one case, the five men are accused of fleecing more than $25,000 from an elderly man after promising to fix his roof, but bailing with the cash.
One elderly man in Oxenford reportedly handed over $6,000 to the men for them to fix his driveway.
Police said the men and women also allegedly scammed food from classy restaurants both in Brisbane and on the Gold Coast.
In one case, while at a restaurant on the Gold Coast, the men and women allegedly placed a tiny piece of glass in one of their meals and then demanding a refund.
In another more recent incident, four of the men are alleged to have dined at a restaurant in Brisbane City and caused a ruckus and refused to pay their bill after claiming they found hair in their meal.
“They are good at creating diversions and distractions/disruptions to either steal goods or demand goods and services for free,” Detective Superintendent Flemming said.
“They are aggressive and usually work in groups of two or more.”
Detective Superintendent Flemming said police were working with the Australian Border Force and, if the group was caught and found guilty, said the agencies would consider deporting them back to Ireland.
“The nature of these matters appear to have some connection,” he said.
“We’ve got a team of people actively looking for these people at the moment.”
Police are urging anyone with information about the people pictured to contact Policelink on 131 444.
You can also report information about crime anonymously to Crime Stoppers by calling 1800 333 000 or via crimestoppersqld.com.au 24 hours per day. Crime Stoppers is a registered charity and community volunteer organisation.