26 March 2024

Wannabe western Cape gangsters set social media collision course

| Lyndon Keane

The offenders responsible for stealing Weipa resident Brad Kershaw’s work vehicle on 19 March were lucky to escape with their lives after rolling the vehicle. Photo: Supplied.

Despite anger and frustration bubbling under the surface, the latest victim of a group of alleged car thieves based in Napranum says his biggest concern is that their actions will cause death and community division.

On 19 March, Weipa resident Brad Kershaw had his work vehicle, a Toyota LandCruiser utility, stolen from his home, only to have it turn up abandoned the next morning after being rolled.

Between being stolen and crashed, the vehicle appeared in videos uploaded to a new Instagram account boasting a glimpse “under the mask” of offenders as they hoon in stolen vehicles, many of which can easily be identified as belonging to Weipa businesses.

The Instagram account, which Cape York Weekly has chosen not to name as to not draw further attention to it, had 331 followers as of 24 March, 2024, with most of the accounts 20 posts featuring allegedly stolen vehicles being driven dangerously around Napranum to the soundtrack of rappers like The Notorious B.I.G and Ice Cube.

In many videos, community members can be seen laughing and celebrating the occupants of the stolen vehicles as they film their actions.

Mr Kershaw slammed the offenders and said he believed they were attempting to “copycat” other social media accounts depicting motor vehicle and property crime.

“I’ve worked in communities a lot, and I think it’s because they’ve seen the boys in the city do it,” he said following the theft.

“I think it’s just copycat stuff really.”

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Mr Kershaw said the loss of the vehicle had a major impact on his day-to-day life but added his greatest fear was the impact the behaviour could have on Weipa and Napranum if it was not stopped.

“The impact it has on me is that I use it every day for work, and that’s my only vehicle besides driving a [heavy rigid] truck; that’s the only other vehicle I’ve got,” he said.

“To do shopping and that now, I’m going to have to take the flatbed truck instead of the ute.

“The car’s a material object … they stole the car, but they’re still human beings; they’re going to either kill themselves, and that will wreck their families, or they will kill someone else.

“It’s got to stop.”

Footage of Weipa resident Brad Kershaw’s stolen work vehicle appeared on the Instagram page before it was crashed and rolled later that night. Photo: Instagram.

A Queensland Police Service spokesperson told Cape York Weekly they were aware of the Instagram account and said charges were yet to be laid over the theft of Mr Kershaw’s vehicle.

“Initial information suggests unknown offenders gained access to the property and stole a Toyota LandCruiser, which was later involved in dangerous driving offences,” the spokesperson said.

“No charges have been laid; anyone with information is urged to contact police.

“Weipa police are aware of vision posted to social media of dangerous driving activity in the Cape York area [and] multiple people have been charged with property offences in Weipa in the last month.”

Many of the mine-spec vehicles that feature in videos on the Instagram page can clearly be identified as belonging to Weipa-based businesses. Photo: Instagram.

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