In lieu of being able to burn rubber at Canberra’s postponed annual car festival Summernats, hoons instead commandeered roads in Braddon, Fyshwick, and Hume over the weekend as their own burnout pits.
Lonsdale Street in Braddon had to be closed off by ACT Policing on both Friday 8 January and Saturday 9 January following reports of burnouts and dangerous driving during an unregulated car cruise.
On 8 January, following the Lonsdale Street closure, police then received reports of many hoons driving dangerously at the corner of Yallourn Street and Canberra Avenue in Fyshwick.
Police attended and parked their vehicle 100 metres away from the spectators. Their vehicle was quickly surrounded by spectators who threw items and verbally abused the officers.
The crowd parted and the drivers dispersed after police activated their lights and sirens.
ACT Policing Detective Inspector Adrian Craft said police were blindsided by Friday’s initial gathering.
“It was surprising in a sense this year because there was no organised Summernats event. We didn’t expect this sort of thing.
“The nature and the size of it caught us by surprise here.
“When Summernats is on, we roster and apply our resources accordingly … It was just what we would have considered a normal Friday night, but we then had to deploy further resources to deal with what we faced.”
On the Saturday night, a similar series of events followed, with hoons occupying Lonsdale Street before heading back to the same Fyshwick intersection following police intervention.
“We did receive word and information through social media that we could expect a repeat of that behaviour on Saturday night,” Detective Inspector Craft said.
On arrival in Fyshwick, some cars immediately began doing burnouts before police seized two of the vehicles.
The drivers of those impounded vehicles will be prosecuted for the relevant offences, as they were conducting burnouts.
“There was up to 1,000 people out at Canberra Avenue and Fyshwick on Saturday night,” Detective Inspector Craft said.
A crowd then gathered in Hume but quickly dispersed as police turned vehicles around. Subsequently a large crowd gathered at a service station on Monaro Highway in Hume where a member of the crowd set off a firework in the service station.
Over the border, on Thursday 7 and Friday 8 January, NSW Police were called to an area near the Eaglehawk petrol station off the Federal Highway following reports a group of hoons had blocked road access to allegedly conduct burnouts and drive recklessly.
Police observed more than 60 cars at the scene, however, the crowd dispersed upon police arrival.
“An investigation has commenced, with police to review CCTV footage to identify any drivers committing traffic offences,” a spokesperson said.
People involved ‘can expect a visit’ from police
Detective Inspector Craft said ACT Policing have received “a number” of reports and information from members of the public through Crime Stoppers in relation to identifying offenders present on Friday night.
“People who were involved in that can be expecting to receive a visit from us at some stage,” he said.
“They can expect significant fines either coming through a traffic infringement notice or coming before the court, and they can also expect their vehicles to be seized.
“We will be monitoring social media and people should be aware that we know the people who are doing these sorts of things … when they put them up on social media, they give us a date, time and location of where the offence was committed.”
He said the absence of Summernats or a regulated facility in Canberra doesn’t justify the hoon behaviour witnessed over the weekend.
“There’s a number of boxing rings in the ACT but people still fight outside of boxing rings, so to use the excuse of the fact there was no Summernats on to justify this sort of behaviour is childish.”
Prior to the shenanigans, on Thursday 7 January a gathering of over 120 car enthusiasts partook in a police-sanctioned cruise through Canberra’s Inner North as a proxy for the traditional Summernats cruise.
The conduct at that event was in stark contrast to the other ‘Summernats-substitute’ events that followed.
“There is a dedicated group of people who I would call genuine car enthusiasts in the ACT who are very proud of the show vehicles they have,” Detective Inspector Craft said.
“And then there’s a collection of people who think their driving abilities, or their expectations of their driving abilities, well and truly exceeds what they can actually do … They are the ones who concern us.
“If you watch the social media vision, you’ll see people doing burnouts surrounded by vehicles within touching distance.
“All that has to happen is for that vehicle to gain traction for a millisecond and all of a sudden you’re going to have five or six people run over, serious injuries and possible death.”