Western Region Crime Squad is appealing to the public to assist in locating 12 firearms stolen from a property south west of Ballarat earlier this year.
Two firearms safes containing 13 firearms and a significant quantity of ammunition were stolen from a property at Smythesdale about 1.40pm on Thursday 8 April.
It is alleged a group of four males forced their way into a Vermont Road property, using a trolley to move two locked firearms safes located in one of the bedrooms.
The Western Region Crime Squad has conducted a thorough investigation into the incident, resulting in the arrest of four males and recovery of one firearm and ammunition.
A 23-year-old from Solders Hill, a 33-year-old from Werribee, a 26-year-old from Ballarat and a 28-year-old from Sebastopol have been charged with a range of offences including possession of a traffickable quantity of firearms, prohibited person possess firearms, burglary and theft.
The Sebastopol male has also been charged with criminal damage (arson) after the car alleged to have be used in the incident was located burnt out at an industrial area in Mitchell Park, Ballarat on 16 May. All four men have been remanded to appear at Ballarat Magistrates’ Court on 9 September.
The stolen safes were located open and emptied in the Enfield State Forrest, approximately 23 kilometres from Smythesdale on 18 April.
Western Region Crime Squad detectives, supported by the Ballarat Crime Investigation Unit, have executed nine warrants across May and June in Soldiers Hill, Invermay, Alfredton, Werribee, Wyndham Vale, Mount Pleasant and Sebastopol as part of the investigation.
One firearm was recovered in Creswick in May, linked to an alleged attempted burglary. A large portion of the stolen ammunition was located at a property in Invermay.
Police are seeking information in relation to the remaining 12 firearms and ammunition which have not been located. Images and a list of the stolen firearms, including a number of shotguns and longarms, have been released in the hope the community may be able to assist in locating them.
• Parker Hale 12 Gauge Shotgun
• Lambar 12 Gauge Shotgun
• Adler 13220 12 Guge Shotgun
• Marlin .44 Mag long Arm
• Rugar 6.5 Cremoor
• Mauser 270 Longarm
• Ruger Longarm
• Mauser .257 Longarm
• Howa 300 Longarm
• BSA .22 Hornet
• Rugar M77 220swift
• Bruno 2 .22 Longarm
Anyone with information about the stolen firearms, or firearms not being stored correctly is urged to contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000 or submit a confidential crime report to www.crimestoppersvic.com.au.
Victoria Police would also like to remind firearms licence holders about the importance of remaining vigilant when it comes to ensuring their firearms are stored securely and in compliance with the legislative requirements. Further information about storage requirements can be found at police.vic.gov.au/safe-storage.
Quotes attributable to Western Region Crime Squad Detective Senior Constable Haydn Templeton:
“The Western Region Crime Squad will continue to work tirelessly to investigate this incident and do all we can to locate these firearms and hold offenders to account.
“We’re asking for the community’s help to report any information they may have about the location of the stolen firearms so we can ensure they don’t fall into the hands of any criminals who may wish to cause harm in our community.
“While we believe this theft was a targeted incident, they are often opportunistic and could have potentially been prevented by the installation of a purpose made commercial gun safe.
“As always we ask that all licence holders take the responsibility of owning a firearm very seriously. They need to be aware of storage requirements and do everything they can to secure firearms and ammunition safety and securely.