POLICE officers called in the canine unit over fears that a 500-strong crowd gathered on the Princes Highway in Oakleigh would lose control.
About 10.30pm last Friday week, two canines from the Victoria Police dog squad — in addition to officers from the Nunawading highway patrol and the Glen Waverley and Oakleigh police stations — helped disperse a crowd that had assembled on either side of the highway to watch hoons perform burn-outs and run illegal drag races.
The Public Order Response Team, which is used to respond to or prevent serious breaches of the peace, was also called in to break up the mob, which occupied 450 metres from Warrigal Road to Atkinson Street.
Sergeant Colin Greenland of the Nunawading highway patrol said the crowd had been "confrontational".
"Had [the Public Order Response Team] not been available, we may have had a very antisocial environment," he said.
Although the canine unit was not utilised, Sergeant Greenland said they were a visible deterrent. "With them hearing a police dog barking in a station wagon or even sighting the police dog, they then realise that the police are serious."
Police arrested a 27-year-old Narre Warren man for antisocial behaviour. He was released with a fine.
Officers also issued 72 fines for traffic offences such as speeding, failing to wear a seatbelt and disobeying U-turn signs. Nine cars received defect notices.
Sergeant Greenland said the hoon problem in Oakleigh was longstanding.
"We always have crowds gathering on a Friday night, sometimes hundreds of cars, or even a thousand, just cruising up and down."
Last year, Monash Council installed no-stopping zones on Princes Highway to prevent hoons and spectators from parking in the notorious hot spot on Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights between 11pm and 5am.
But Sergeant Greenland said the new no-stopping zones had failed to act as a deterrent.
"What we find is people still park there. We just issue penalty notices to them. They don't care about it."
"It's the mob mentality. Everyone gathers, they all wish to impress each other. They must gain some form of bravado and they commit stupid antisocial actions prior to engaging their brain and thinking about it."
He had a warning for any potential hoon drivers who wanted to make Warrigal Road a permanent haunt.
"If they think they can go there and break the law and do what they want, they really need to think again, take a long hard look at themselves and don't turn up. Police will be watching. We'll take action and prosecute anyone who is in breach of our road rules or commits other street offences."