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Hunt for knife-wielding African thugs who robbed four Melbourne supermarkets in terrifying rampage

A manhunt is underway for a group of armed robbers on the run after holding up four supermarkets during a terrifying crime spree across Melbourne.

The three knife-wielding males, believed to be teenagers, stole cash and cigarettes from stores in Cheltenham, Brighton, Mount Waverley and Camberwell between 3.50pm and 6.30pm on Saturday, leaving several staff with minor injuries.

The trio were wearing gloves and balaclavas, but CCTV footage from inside the supermarkets shows that at least two are of African appearance while another is White, and Victoria Police said on Sunday they were confident of making arrests.

“Our methodology in targeting youth crime has been able to allow us to make these [kind of] arrests,” Detective inspector Scott Dwyer said.

“We know them, we know who they hang out with, that sort of intelligence allows us not only who we are targeting but that arrests will be made.

“We believe they are between 14 and 17, of a number of different nationalities.”

Dwyer said the offenders were travelling in a white Mercedes hatchback which was stolen from a Doncaster East home in a “non-confrontational” incident on June 7, believed to be have driven by a fourth offender.

The trio first held up a supermarket on Bernard St, Cheltenham at 3.50, assaulting a staff member before fleeing with cash and cigarettes.

They then assaulted three supermarket employees at a store on Cochrane St, Brighton, stealing more cash and cigarettes.

Police were then called to a third supermarket on Andrew St, Mount Waverley, just after 6pm, where more cigarettes were stolen.

The same offenders then held up a store on Through Rd, Camberwell, just before 6.30pm, again making off with cash and cigarettes.

Police said no-one was injured during the second two robberies.

The rampage comes after Victoria Police figures revealed that there have been 37,668 home invasions in the state since 2014, affecting more than 94,000 residents and one in 75 homes.

And while the police no longer release offender nationality statistics to the public, the last available figures show that Sudan and South Sudan-born offenders are heavily overrepresented in crime statistics, especially in the aggravated burglary category.

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