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It’s been more than five years now since upholstery tacks were first discovered on Yarra Boulevard, one of Melbourne’s most popular cycling routes. Despite ongoing police efforts, little progress has been made and the so-called ‘Boulie tacker’ continues to evade arrest.
But now, Victoria Police has had enough. The organisation today announced a $50,000 reward “for information leading to the apprehension and subsequent conviction of the person or persons responsible for placing these tacks on the roads.” Anyone who provides information about the identity of the offender or offenders may be granted indemnification by the Director of Public Prosecutions.
Roughly 1,000 punctures have been reported along Yarra Boulevard in the past five years, with a cumulative cost well into the tens of thousands of dollars. According to Victoria Police, several riders have sustained serious injuries as a result of those punctures. Hundreds of thousands of dollars have also been spent on regular street-sweeping efforts,
Eastern Region Assistant Commissioner Glenn Weir today reiterated Victoria Police’s commitment to finding those responsible.
“Our detectives are investigating serious offences including conduct endangering life, criminal damage and aggravated littering,” he said. “The tacks also pose [a danger] to all road users, including pedestrians and those walking with pets as they can cause significant injury. It simply has to stop.
“We’re hoping this $50,000 reward will lead to the arrest and conviction of the person or persons who’ve been endangering cyclists and pedestrians lives for years.”
In addition to the financial reward, Victoria Police today confirmed that two mobile CCTV units will be used to “improve safety along Yarra Boulevard and assist in the investigation.”
Today’s announcement comes less than a month after local federal member Josh Frydenberg announced a $5 million safety upgrade for Yarra Boulevard.
“The funding covers extensive measures including CCTVs, lighting and speed inhibitors,” Frydenberg said at the time. “These measures are designed to address speeding and hooning issues, and take into account the needs of motorists, cyclists and pedestrians.
“For years, residents have raised serious concerns about speeding drivers, dangerous late-night hooning and tacks laid deliberately on the Yarra Boulevard to injure cyclists and other road users.”
Reports of tacks on Yarra Boulevard first emerged in February 2014 and while there have been long periods without any new drops, fresh tacks have appeared sporadically in recent years.
In June 2016 local police released images of a man whom they believed could assist with their investigation. The images, taken from a nearby CCTV camera, showed the man pulling apart one of several puncture repair stations along Yarra Boulevard.
Police have urged anyone with information about the “Boulie tacker” to contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000 or submit a confidential crime report at www.crimestoppers.com.au.