Two extradited from Victoria and charged over $500,000 opal theft at Lake Illawarra

Two men have been extradited from Victoria and charged as part of an ongoing investigation into the alleged theft of opals valued at more than $500,000 during a home invasion in the Illawarra earlier this year.

Shortly after 1am on Wednesday 10 February 2021, four people allegedly entered a home at the Princes Highway, Albion Park Rail, and demanded opal stones from the occupant’s personal collection.

The occupants – a 46-year-old man and 26-year-old woman – complied and handed over a large collection of opal stones valued at more than $500,000.

The group then fled the scene in a black Ford sedan.

The incident was reported to officers from Lake Illawarra Police District who commenced inquiries, before detectives from the State Crime Command’s Robbery and Serious Crime Squad took carriage of the investigation under Strike Force Diment.

Following extensive investigations, detectives from Victoria Police (VICPOL), arrested two men – aged 28 and 27 – during a vehicle stop at St Kilda about 3pm on Wednesday (12 May 2021).

During a subsequent search of the vehicle, police located a substantial quantity of opals, which were seized and will be subject to further examination.

The men appeared at Melbourne Magistrates Court on Thursday (13 May 2021), where detectives applied for, and were granted, their extradition to NSW.

The men were escorted back to Sydney yesterday (Friday 14 May 2021) and taken to Surry Hills Police Station.

The older man was charged with two counts of take/detain person in company with intent to obtain advantage, specially aggravated break & enter & commit serious indictable offence-weapon, and knowingly deal with proceeds of crime.

The younger man was charged with knowingly deal with proceeds of crime, and specially aggravated break & enter and commit serious indictable offence-weapon.

The men were both refused bail to appear at Parramatta Bail Court today (Saturday 15 May 2021).

Inquiries under Strike Force Diment are continuing with further arrests expected.

Anyone with information that could assist strike force detectives is urged to contact Crime Stoppers: 1800 333 000 or https://nsw.crimestoppers.com.au. Information is treated in strict confidence. The public is reminded not to report information via NSW Police social media pages.

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