THE largest police blitz seen in Sunraysia in close to a decade has produced some “seriously concerning” results according to Victoria and NSW Police.

‘Operation HOPS’ was in effect on both sides of the Murray River last weekend, with extra Victoria Police resources on hand to carry out the operation, including Head of Victorian Road Policing Operations, Superintendent John Fitzpatrick, PICTURED with Mildura police Inspector Kevin Coughlan.

The aim of the operation was to reduce road trauma in the Sunraysia area, and came about following the State’s horror start to 2019.

One hundred and seventy people have been killed on Victorian roads so far this year – 59 more than this time last year.

Operation HOPS was held over three days, with 3000 drivers tested for alcohol and drugs on both sides of the border.

Thirty-nine drivers tested positive to illicit drugs (38 in Mildura), while eight people (seven in Mildura) were found to be over the legal alcohol limit.

A further 432 other traffic offences were detected, including driving unregistered vehicles, unlicensed driving, driving unroadworthy vehicles and speeding (two motorists were detected driving in excess of 140km/h in 100km/h zone).

A police spokesperson said that the number of drug and alcohol-affected drivers detected in Mildura is seriously concerning given the risk they pose to other road users. 

“The detection of 38 drug-affected drivers also highlights the extent of methamphetamine use (including ice) in our community,” they said. “New South Wales Police and Victoria Police have given a commitment to run similar operations in upcoming months.”

Police say that pleasingly, only one person was caught driving in excess of the prescribed alcohol limit after leaving a football/netball club. 

“Victoria Police and New South Wales Police will continue to work together in an attempt to reduce road trauma,” the police spokesperson said. “This commitment aligns with jointly held ethos of ‘One Community – No Borders.’

“One of the main focuses of last weekend’s traffic operation was to try and change drivers attitude for the better. 

“We can all improve and become safer drivers on our roads. Make a positive change to your driving habit’s by slowing down, not being tempted to use your mobile phone while driving or even just being a little bit more patient on our roads. 

“Please also have a conversation with your family and friends about making positive changes to their driving.”

In other Mildura police news, local members are seeking assistance in regards to several incidents.

The first occurred in the early hours of Friday, July 19, when two vehicles were broken into in Mildura in Hollywood Boulevard and Bene Vista Boulevard respectively, with several items stolen including a wallet, Oakley sunglasses, Leatherman multi-tool and a Swiss Army Knife.

Between 10pm Saturday, July 20, and 7am Sunday, July 21, meanwhile, an Esky was been stolen from outside a caravan at a caravan park in Flora Avenue, Mildura. 

The Esky is a 120-litre ‘Willow’ brand, and contained a six-pack of beer and a bottle of wine.

Police are also seeking information after a blue 2000 Ford Courier utility was stolen from an address in Smith Street, Merbein, on Monday, July 21. 

Anyone with information about these crimes is asked to contact the Mildura Police Station on 5018 5300 or contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.