Move to protect Queensland domestic violence victims

Move to protect Queensland domestic violence victims

TWO former senior Victorian police officers have begun de-bugging the homes and cars of Queensland domestic violence victims being stalked by violent ex-partners.

Former detectives Stephen Wilson and Steven Schultze are conducting security sweeps of terrified women’s homes and cars, looking for tracking and surveillance devices.

The duo, who run Melbourne-based security firm the Protective Group, are contracted by the Salvation Army as part of a multi-million dollar federally-funded anti-domestic violence program announced in 2015 by Malcolm Turnbull.

Violent offenders are leaving bugs in children’s toys, phones and more to monitor their ex-partner’s moves

They launched their service in Victoria and Tasmania but it has now moved into Queensland.

Today, Mr Wilson and Mr Schultze conducted security audits on the homes of Gold Coast and Sunshine Coast women after being contacted by concerned local police.

Mr Wilson said he had seen cases of tracking devices being planted in children’s toys, and smart phone apps being used by men to monitor text messages and emails.

“I’ve seen GPS tracking devices advertised on the internet for under $20,” the former National Crime Authority investigator said.

“These devices are the size of a 20c coin and they can be slipped under a car mat. Back in my day as a copper, tracking devices were as big as transistor radios and had to be put under the car with magnets.”

As well as de-bugging, Mr Wilson and Mr Schultze also provide more basic security upgrades such as sensor lights and improved window and door locks.

They also provide frightened women with duress alarms.

Mr Wilson said his company had helped about 1300 vulnerable women and children. Many women were living in fear of violent partners set to be released from jail.

“It’s about throwing a protective blanket around these women and children and making them feel safe and secure in their own homes,” he said.

“We’ve had women who have been living in domestic violence refuges able to go home.”

Detective Inspector Marc Hogan, who heads the Gold Coast police Domestic and Family Violence Taskforce, encouraged the Protect Group to come to the Coast after meeting Mr Wilson at an anti-domestic violence conference.

“They’re providing an important service for women who are being stalked and can’t explain how it’s happening,” he said.

This article was written by Greg Stolz for The Courier-Mail and originally published on 28 February 2017.