Police have arrested four suspects in relation to two home invasions that prompted the lockdown of two schools in Melbourne’s east. Wantirna College and Regency Park Primary School were locked down for about an hour late on Thursday morning as police descended on the two schools, searching for the alleged burglars.
A staff member at Regency Park Primary School said she was told not to leave the school just after 11am.
Two of the burglaries, one in Park Orchards at 7.55am and another at Almondsbury Court in Blackburn at 9.50am, occurred while the occupants were home.
The Park Orchards victim was allegedly driven to an ATM where he was forced to withdraw cash and hand it over to five youths.
The five offenders, one of whom is as young as 16, then allegedly burgled an unoccupied home a short time later on Creek Road in Mitcham.
Police say the youths gained access to the property via an unlocked garage, before allegedly stealing a laptop and other items.
A Ford sedan, believed to be stolen from Fairwood Rise in Officer, was later found abandoned in Wantirna South.
Four offenders, including a 16-year-old from Springvale and three 18-year-olds from Frankston, Pakenham and Dandenong North, were arrested nearby and are being interviewed by police.
Authorities are still looking for the fifth offender.
One of the victims of the home invasions, who didn’t wish to be named, told Fairfax Media he and his partner were in the house when four youths came through their front door.
“They wanted money,” he said.
“I said if they wanted money, I can get them money, but they needed to get out of the house.”
The victim said two of the youths accompanied him in his car, while the other two followed in what appeared to be a stolen vehicle.
“They remained in the cars; they didn’t want to be filmed on the CCTV,” he said.
“It all happened very quickly.”
Eastern region crime squad detective Sergeant Sean Audley said the arrests occurred after a combined effort from the Police Air Wing, the dog squad and uniformed police.
“We have plans and resources in place to quickly respond to this type of offending,” he said.
A spokesman for the Department of Education confirmed Wantirna College and Regency Park Primary School were no longer in lock down.
“We would like to praise students and staff for the calm and efficient manner they responded,” he said.
“All schools have emergency management plans in case of incidents like this, which they update annually and practice regularly.”