Police have released more details about groups of tourists, believed to be from Ireland, who are targeting businesses, restaurants, and elderly people in scams and acts of theft across Queensland.
Groups of men and women with Irish accents are currently being investigated by Queensland police and the Australian Border Force after 12 complaints were made to police about their behaviour since January. The men and women are suspected to be linked.
Detective Superintendent Tony Flemming said authorities have assigned a team that is currently looking for the suspects.
“It appears these matters have some connection,” he told Newscorp. “What we’ve done is brought it all together under one command.”
“We’ve got a team of people at the moment actively looking for these people.
“We’ve also engaged our colleagues at the Australian Border Force … It’s hard enough for small businesses to make a dollar. This has the potential to have a significant impact on the community,” he added.
One group, made up of women often accompanied by children, is accused of “targeting retail stores, stealing goods and money, and obtaining free food and beverages from restaurants by claiming foreign objects, such as glass, are in their food,” police said in a statement on March 10.
In one incident, a Brisbane restaurant owner Marie Yokoyama said a group of “Irish girls” showed up at her restaurant and claimed that there was a piece of glass in her meal. She then demanded to the restaurant owner that their meal be free of charge.
“Halfway through the meal one lady started screaming that their [sic] was glass in her meal and that her mouth was bleeding. I believed her and then asked to see the glass,” Yokoyama said.
“Upon inspection, I knew that this had not come from our restaurant but they were relentless. We don’t have any thick glass of this sort in the restaurant. I was so scared and terrified of them that I made their meals and drinks free – around 180 dollars value,” she added.
In another similar incident, a group of four men left a Brisbane restaurant without paying after claiming to have found hair in their food.
“They are good at creating diversions and distractions/disruptions to either steal goods or demand goods and services for free. They are aggressive and usually work in groups of two or more,” Fleming said in the statement.
Police allege another group of several men are targeting elderly people by taking payments for house repairs but never finishing the work.
“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,” the statement read.
On one of the occasions, five men defrauded an elderly man of more than $25,000 after they failed to carry out their services, reported Newscorp. On another occasion, a driveway repair was also arranged with an Irish person but the person failed to complete the repair.
Fleming has warned people to be cautious and has urged homeowners “to say no to anyone offering door to door home repairs until you are able to make an informed decision and know that this is a legitimate offer.”
Police have also provided a list of tips to help homeowners avoid a scam or shoddy handyman:
– say no – at first;
– seek more information – from independent sources such as family, friends, neighbours, newspaper advertisements or past clients;
– reputable businesses will be happy to provide you with full contacts details so that you can follow-up on their services;
– obtain a written quote;
– seek an agreement with the person offering the service that all monies will be paid at the satisfactory completion of the job and not up front;
– regulatory authorities who are responsible for license and regulation of various trades such as plumbing, building and electrical etc, should be contacted to ascertain if the handyman is currently licensed; and
– if the offer turns out to be safe and good for you, you can always say yes later.
If you have information for police, contact Policelink on 131 444 or provide information using the online form 24hrs per day.