Police bust Bitumen Bandits in Far North Queensland

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A gang known as the “Bitumen Bandits” who allegedly ripped off dozens by doing dodgy work have been arrested.

Queensland Police say the gang included two men, aged 34 and 41, and a 16-year-old boy have been in Australia illegally on overstayed visas from Britain.

Detective Inspector Mick Searle alleged the group offered to lay bitumen, roadworks and driveways on people’s properties, which was done to a very poor quality or was not completed, then demanded payment.

“In some cases the work was carried out, but when people realised the work was very poor and raised it with the offenders, they were confronted with threatening or standover behaviour,” he said.

“That is intimidating for a lot of people, especially vulnerable people in the community.”

Police alleged the group told their victims they were in the area performing roadworks and had a leftover supply of bitumen and other road materials which they could use for improvements around people’s properties.

“Our allegation is that the premise of that is false and a fraud,” Detective Inspector Searle said.

The bandits travelled to Weipa, the Cape York region, Port Douglas, the Atherton Tablelands, Innisfail, Townsville and Cloncurry, but it was possible they travelled more widely in Queensland and the rest of Australia.

Victims have included a church group in Mt Isa and police believe there are more victims who have not come forward.

“We urge anyone if they are approached by people offering this type of work that they immediately contact police and communicate that information through their social media networks in their community,” he said.

“We have seen social media posts in the community of people who had contact with these offenders and we would like these people to contact police.

“This is a group of people who have taken money from vulnerable individuals for work that isn’t performed or is performed to a cursory standard that isn’t going to last.”

Detective Inspector Searle said it was important to prevent this type of behaviour before it caused significant community harm and people lost big amounts of money.

“People suffer consequences from that,” he said.

The group is due to appear in the Mareeba Magistrates Court on May 27.

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