Teenage thugs replicating American street gangs clad in red hoodies and bandanas are causing havoc in Melbourne.
The wannabe gangsters, known among locals in the city’s south-east as the Reds, are reportedly linked to a series of assaults, robberies and thefts.
The new gang of youths of African and Caucasian appearance menacing residents have caused police to ramp up patrols in the City of Casey.
The Reds take to social media to brag about terrorising residents around shopping centres and elsewhere in the Endeavour Hills suburb – 35km south-east of the Melbourne CBD.
The youths hide themselves with red hoods, bandanas and hats.
Daily Mail Australia has obtained photographs of local teenagers posing with their heads bowed wearing red garments and making hand signals.
There is no suggestion the youths in the photographs are involved in any wrongdoing or criminal activity.
A local resident who we are keeping anonymous said: ‘It is a problem though these wannabe gangsters – the Crips and Bloods. [They are] watching too many movies but causing havoc in the schools at the moment.’
It comes as traders at the nearby Endeavour Hills Shopping Centre warned they were being terrorised and had seen the teens threatening customers and stealing from shops.
One said he wanted increased security at the centre and was left disgusted by the group’s behaviour – which included one member spitting at a customer.
‘They think they’re full-on gangsters and parade around the centre wearing red and play loud music through a big speaker,’ Amrif Rustemovski told the Herald Sun.
He said traders and customers no longer felt safe doing their shopping.
The centre manager, Leigh Regan, claims security teams they employ will ‘continue to work with police’, the Herald Sun reports.
Police believe they caught some of the ‘wannabe gang members’ in relation to a aggravated burglary in January.
Acting Sergeant Matt McCormack was also quoted by the Herald Sun as saying three teens aged 15, 16 and 17 will appear in court on March 23 ‘in relation to a series of offences’.
They were arrested seven days after the alleged incident on January 10 and are accused of stealing from The Reject Shop at the centre.
Acting Sergeant McCormack added local patrols had been stepped up around the centre ‘to target hotspots’.
Meanwhile, a New Year’s Eve attack where a man was attacked, bashed in the head and left semi-conscious on the footpath is still being investigated.
The victim said at the time he had been approached by four to six teenagers of Pacific Islander appearance in red shirts and bandannas.
The city’s problems with gangs has been widely documented and reported over the summer.
A series of crimes believed to be linked to African gangs came to a head in January.
Mostly Sudanese youths are accused of stealing cars, invading homes and businesses, and theft.
The crime spree has even prompted some residents to fork out $10,000 on security systems for their homes.
The Menace To Society gang, whose presence emerged after the earlier exploits of the more prominent Apex gang, are believed to be linked to several crimes in the Tarneit area, 25km west of Melbourne.
One woman was reportedly hit across the face when 14 men ransacked her home in Hillside, in the city’s far north west.
Alleged Apex gang kingpin Mahmoud Taha, 21, jailed last week for organising three armed heists.