A group of senior southside Rebels has defected to establish a Nomads bikie presence in the ACT, continuing the rapid erosion of Canberra's long-held status as a one-club city.
A Tuggeranong tattoo parlour owned by the father of one of the defecting bikies was allegedly targeted on Monday morning, prompting speculation the move may have created tensions.
For decades, the Rebels were the only outlaw motorcycle club in Canberra, establishing up to five chapters in the ACT, recruiting heavily but bringing the stability that comes without inter-gang rivalry.
That changed in 2014, when the Comancheros developed a foothold by forming a Canberra chapter made up largely of former Rebels.
Fairfax Media can reveal that a third gang, the Nomads, has further fragmented the bikie landscape in the ACT.
Some southside Rebels, including senior member Michael Wayne Clark, are understood to have patched over to the Nomads.
It is unclear what their motivation was.
A tattoo parlour targeted in what police allege was a suspiciously lit fire about 2.55am on Monday was owned by Wayne Gordon Clark, a former southside Rebels stalwart and father of Michael Clark.
The fire is understood to have caused minimal damage to the business, Tattoo Culture, which is expected to reopen on Wednesday.
Police say they are concerned about the reported emergence of the Nomads, particularly if it was caused by an internal conflict within an existing club.
An ACT Policing spokeswoman said there were no suggestions bikie numbers were rising, but rather that existing gangs were splintering.
"The presence of any additional [outlaw motorcycle gangs] who are potentially in conflict with each other does raise a concern for community safety and it would be naive to advise there is no risk to members of the public should any conflict escalate into physical violence," she said.
"The community should be reassured that any dispute between gang members is just that, and there would be no benefit for deliberately involving innocent members of the community."
The establishment of a Comancheros chapter dramatically altered the ACT's decades-long tradition of one-club dominance.
Members of other outlaw gangs had long been present, but rivals had never gone as far as setting up an ACT chapter.
Police allege that frictions between the Comancheros and Rebels culminated in tit-for-tat shootings last year. Those alleged shootings appear to have been isolated.
An ACT Policing spokeswoman warned bikie members of any gang to think about the consequences before deciding to confront rivals.
"They can be assured that police will pursue all persons involved and prosecute them to the full extent of the law so as to ensure the safety of the ACT community," she said.
"As a member of Operation Morpheus, the national OMCG taskforce, ACT Policing works collaboratively with our state, territory and Commonwealth law enforcement counterparts to detect and disrupt the criminal activities of OMCGs."
"ACT Policing has and will continue to work collaboratively with the ACT government to inform a legislative reform program that provides a more effective framework to disrupt and combat the criminal threat presented by the presence of OMCGs in the territory."
Investigations into the fire at Tattoo Culture are continuing, police say.