10 arrested as Western Region Crime Squad recover 16 stolen firearms

Western Region Crime Squad detectives have arrested 10 alleged offenders following a string of allegedly linked firearm thefts near Ballarat, Daylesford, and Horsham earlier this year.

An investigation commenced after 25 firearms were allegedly stolen from the following properties:

• Four firearms stolen from an Enfield property on 14 November 2022.

• Four firearms stolen from a Newlyn property on 10 November 2022.

• Ten firearms stolen from a Horsham property on 13 August 2022.

• Seven firearms stolen from a Blampied property on 29 July 2022.

To date, police have recovered 16 firearms, with investigations ongoing into the whereabouts of the remaining nine stolen firearms.

Police will also allege two offenders attended a Beaufort address on 13 August 2022 where they attempted to steal firearms.

During the alleged attempted theft, the two men allegedly shot at a 31-year-old victim who had confronted them, before fleeing the scene in a stolen Toyota Landcruiser

The victim suffered no injuries at the time of the of the incident.

On 27 September, a 27-year-old Creswick man was arrested by the Special Operations Group (SOG) on Queen Street, Ararat. On 25 November, the SOG executed a second arrest of a 24-year-old from Clifton Springs in Albert Street, Sebastopol, in relation to this incident.

The man has been charged with reckless conduct endangering life, theft of firearms, attempted theft of firearms, prohibited person possess firearm, possess traffickable quantity of firearm, possess ammunition, aggravated burglary, theft of motor vehicle, criminal damage by fire, burglary and handle stolen goods.

Both have been remanded to appear before the Ballarat Magistrates Court at a later date.

As part of the investigation into the thefts, police have subsequently recovered 16 stolen firearms following 11 search warrants in Creswick, Ballarat, Ballarat North, Horsham, Sebastopol, and Ararat, as well as five Firearm Prohibition Order compliance checks.

A further six adults arrested as part of this investigation have been charged with possess traffickable quantity of firearm, prohibited person possess firearm, possess ammunition, aggravated burglary, burglary, theft of firearms, theft of motor vehicle, theft and handle stolen goods including a:

• 39-year-old Sebastopol man

• 36-year-old Creswick man

• 34-year-old Creswick man

• 33-year-old Horsham man

• 28-year-old Horsham man

• 18-year-old Delacombe female

They have all been remanded to appear before the Ballarat Magistrates’ Court at later dates.

A 16-year-old boy and 17-year-old boy was also arrested as part of the investigation and charged with prohibited person possess firearm, possess traffickable quantity of firearm, possess ammunition, theft of firearms, burglary and handle stolen goods.

The 16-year-old has been remanded, and the 17-year-old has been bailed to appear before a children’s court at a later date.

Quotes attributed to Western Region Crime Squad Detective Senior Sergeant, Matthew Kershaw:

“There is no doubt our community is now a safer place with 16 allegedly stolen firearms off the street.

“Illicit firearms are a key component of some of Victoria’s most serious and violent crimes, including homicides, shootings, armed robberies and drug offences.

“Theft of a firearm carries a maximum 15-year jail term – this is an extremely serious offence and for this reason, we will not stop until we identify and arrest those seeking to inflict harm on the community.”

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