ACT News

Tattoo parlour 'not affiliated' to bikie gangs hit by gunfire

Crime experts say the shooting of a Gungahlin tattoo parlour had several hallmarks of an outlaw motorcycle gang protecting its interests.

But Centre of Excellence in Policing and Security research fellow Julie Ayling said there were many possible reasons for the shooting, which left four bullet holes discovered in the Tatts On Tatts Off shop front on Tuesday morning.

UNDER FIRE: An investigator at the Tatts On Tatts Off tattoo parlour where bullet holes were discovered in the shop ...
UNDER FIRE: An investigator at the Tatts On Tatts Off tattoo parlour where bullet holes were discovered in the shop front on Tuesday morning. Photo: Matthew Raggatt

''It is certainly consistent with some of the [motorcycle gang] attacks we have seen in other states,'' Ms Ayling said. ''There are a number of possibilities: it could be a competitor - be it either a gang member or not - saying I don't want you being here; it could be a case of mistaken identity … it could be a case of vandalism; or it could be a case of copycat crime - some kids who thought this was a cool thing to do.''

The business, set to open again on Wednesday morning, promotes itself online as ''not affiliated with any outlaw motorcycle group''.

Detective Sergeant Matthew Gale said it was not yet clear who was behind the shooting. ''There's a logical line of inquiry,'' he said. ''We'll be speaking to lots of people that have been put forward to us. If that particular group [a motorcycle gang] is one that we have to speak to then, yes, we will. We've got no suggestion that the operator is affiliated with [outlaw motorcycle gangs] and inquiries are ongoing before we draw any assumptions.''

Clarke Jones works with Ms Ayling at the Australian National University and completed his master's degree in organised crime. He said the tattoo industry was one area that outlaw bikie gangs had sought to influence around Australia.

''Tattoo parlours, motorcycle repair shops, night clubs and security, even DVD shops have been known to be owned by outlaw motorcycle gangs,'' Mr Jones said. ''[They're] the typical type of business they own around Australia.''

Mr Jones said outlaw gangs would take action when their business interests were affected by a competitor, including delivering a ''friendly warning''. ''Friendly warnings can be shots in the stomach to someone, shots through the window or even burning the business,'' he said.

Mr Jones said the focus was not on indiscriminate violence.

The parlour owner, who asked not to be named, called on the ACT government to introduce stronger legislation surrounding the licensing of tattoo parlours, such as that seen in New South Wales. ''We share the borders, why don't we share the same legislation?'' he said.

Ms Ayling said the NSW laws - which prevent a motorbike gang member from owning, operating or financing a parlour - were passed following a spate of tattoo parlour-related shootings in the state early last year.

''We don't have the base criminal legislation they have in NSW and, secondly, we don't have the seriousness of problems they have in NSW with outlaw motorbike gangs and tattoo parlours,'' she said.

Anyone with information or who may have seen or heard anything suspicious on Anthony Rolfe Avenue is urged to contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000 or via act.crime stoppers.com.au.