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Bikies who walk away from outlaw motorcycle gangs can face large financial losses, intimidation and violence as a result of abandoning their commitment to a club.
Interviews with dozens of former bikies as part of a study by the Australian Institute of Criminology have laid bare the substantial costs associated with leaving the gangs, which have evolved to become more brutal and transactional than they were in previous decades.
While some members can leave in good standing for medical reasons or old age, many who turn their backs on the gang are deemed to be in violation of club rules.
Former members reported financial losses of up to $250,000 as a result of leaving. They can be forced to pay outstanding dues or an ‘exit fee’ of between $5000 and $10,000 and forfeit their motorbike.
They are forced to forfeit their club paraphernalia and can lose other assets, including businesses. Some members choose to move away to escape retribution and experience anxiety and poor mental health as a result of the threats.
Former gang members reported the difficulty of leaving varied depending on your record with the club, the particular culture of the local chapter, and how you approached the gang leadership.
“If you’re a younger member, like 12 months, you’re f—ed. You can’t leave,” one former bikie told researchers. “But if you’re a life member, you can leave whenever you like … I did everything right. If I’d been a young member, they’d have just taken my bike.”
Another said you had to be smart in managing the exit, avoiding embarrassment for the club.
“But it depends, some chapters are more vicious, some won’t give a f— and others will. If you went into the club in [redacted location] and left on the Monday, you’d be dead on the Tuesday,” the former member said.
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