Vehicles seized as part of car re-birthing investigation

Detectives from the Vehicle Crime Squad have arrested 18 people and seized over 70 vehicles as part of a nine-month investigation into car re-birthing linked to a Melbourne organised crime syndicate.

The syndicate operated in the outer northern and western suburbs of Melbourne, with stolen vehicles and machinery being taken to rural properties to be dismantled, re-birthed and sold for profit.

The investigation commenced after police received information about possible criminal activity at a property, which then led to further properties and persons of interest involved in the syndicate being identified.

It’s alleged the syndicated was involved in the supply of vehicles to other criminal groups and offenders, with many of the seized vehicles subsequently linked to other incidents such as pursuits.

Between May and September this year, detectives executed 32 warrants across residential, rural and business properties, seizing the following:

• 53 motor vehicles;

• 18 motorcycles;

• 27 trailers;

• 19 vehicle engines;

• Five high-end bicycles;

• Three earth-moving machines;

• A tow truck; and

• A boat.

The seized vehicle makes included Porsche, BMW, Alpha Romeo, Audi, Volkswagen, Subaru, Mini Cooper, Mitsubishi, Holden, Nissan, Ford, Kawasaki, KTM, Yamaha and Harley Davidson.

During the warrants, police also seized four high-powered firearms and ammunition, cash, drugs including methylamphetamines, cannabis, GHB and cocaine, and hundreds of stolen power tools and auto parts.

In total, over 800 items of property valued at more than $2.5 million were seized by investigators.

Twelve men and six women been charged with over 300 offences as part of the investigation, including:

• On 10 September, a 37-year-old Kingsbury man was arrested and charged with 72 offences related to motor vehicle theft, possessing a traffickable quantity of firearms, handling stolen goods and possessing proceeds of crime. He was remanded in custody to appear at Melbourne Magistrates Court on 11 December;

• On 4 September, a 33-year-old Doreen man was arrested and charged with offences related to possessing drugs of dependence and handling stolen goods. He was bailed to appear at Heidelberg Magistrates Court on 18 January, 2021;

• On 4 September, a 30-year-old Thomastown woman was arrested and charged with eight offences in relation to trafficking Mmthylamphetamines, cultivating cannabis and handling stolen goods. She was remanded in custody to appear at Heidelberg Magistrates Court on 13 October;

• On 3 September, a 33-year-old Heidelberg West man was arrested and charged in relation to handling stolen goods and possessing prohibited weapons. He was bailed by the court to attend Heidelberg Magistrates Court on 9 March, 2021;

• On 1 September, a 46-year-old Sunshine West woman was arrested and charged with handling stolen goods and obtaining a financial advantage by deception. She was bailed to appear at Sunshine Magistrates Court on 7 May, 2021;

• On 31 August 2020, a 33-year-old Brunswick West man was arrested and charged with theft and the use of fraudulent registration plates. He was bailed to appear at Melbourne Magistrates Court on 19 March, 2021;

• On 27 August, a 39-year-old Taylors Lakes man was arrested and charged with 16 offences related to handling stolen goods and possessing drugs of dependence. He was bailed by the court to appear at Sunshine Magistrates Court on 26 March, 2021;

• On 25 August, a 44-year-old Sunshine West man was arrested and charged with 30 offences relating to conspiracy to commit theft, theft, motor vehicle rebirthing offences and handling stolen goods. He was remanded in custody to appear at the Melbourne Magistrates Court on 18 November;

• On 25 August, a 40-year-old Ivanhoe man was arrested and charged with 30 offences relating to conspiracy to commit theft, theft, motor vehicle rebirthing offences and handling stolen goods. He was remanded in custody to appear at Melbourne Magistrates Court on 18 November;

• On 25 August, a 40-year-old Reservoir man was arrested and charged in relation to possessing drugs of dependence and possessing a prohibited weapon. He was bailed to appear at Heidelberg Magistrates Court on 24 March, 2021;

• On 25 August, a 38-year-old Kingsbury woman was arrested and charged in relation to handling stolen goods. She was bailed to appear at Heidelberg Magistrates Court on 24 November;

• On 7 July, a 61-year-old Lancefield woman was arrested and charged in relation to handling stolen goods and criminal damage by fire. She was bailed to appear at Kyneton Magistrates Court on 12 October;

• On 7 July, a 36-year-old Romsey woman was arrested and charged with eight offences in relation to handling stolen goods, criminal damage by fire and possessing proceeds of crime. She was bailed to appear at Kyneton Magistrates Court on 12 October;

• On 1 July, a 29-year-old Kingsbury woman was arrested and charged with eight offences in relation to possessing drugs of dependence, handling stolen goods and driving whilst suspended. She was bailed to appear at Heidelberg Magistrates Court on 15 October;

• On 19 June, a 33-year-old Lancefield man was arrested and charged with 21 offences related to theft and handling stolen goods. He was remanded in custody to appear at Kyneton Magistrates Court on 28 September;

• On 11 June, a 38-year-old Melton West man was arrested and charged with 29 offences related to possessing a traffickable quantity of firearms and handling stolen goods. He was remanded in custody to appear at Melbourne Magistrates Court on 21 September;

• On 4 June, a 37-year-old Hillside man was arrested and charged with handling stolen goods and disqualified driving offences. He was bailed to appear at Broadmeadows Magistrates Court on 21 December; and

• On 15 May, a 35-year-old South Melbourne man was arrested and charged with possessing drugs of dependence and handling stolen goods. He was bailed to appear at Melbourne Magistrates Court on 16 March, 2021.

Detective Superintendent Peter Brigham, who oversees the Crime Command’s State Anti-Gang Division, said these results were the culmination of months of committed investigation by the Vehicle Crime Squad.

“The arrest of 18 people over the course of the investigation and the seizure of the significant number of vehicles, equipment, firearms, cash and drugs is an enormous win,” he said.

“Vehicle theft has an incredibly detrimental impact on the community in a variety of ways, including the use of the stolen vehicles in the commission of other serious crimes and allowing offenders to move around more easily.

“We also have victims who are now without a car that might be essential to their ability to work or look after their families.

“Some of these victims were not insured and this has caused significant hardship to these people, not to mention the re-birthed vehicles being a major safety threat to the unwitting buyers.

“This syndicate had no regard for the safety of the community and this is further evidenced by the firearms seizures linked to this investigation.”

Det Supt Brigham also said the community played a key role in providing information to police about suspicious activity linked to the theft and re-birthing of vehicles.

“Profit motivated vehicle theft remains a significant issue for police in Victoria,” he said.

“We are seeing criminal syndicates that are contributing to high numbers of unrecovered stolen cars, which are then laundered as recycled separated parts, as well as whole or partial vehicles.

“Victoria Police works closely with a range of law enforcement agencies and regulatory bodies to try and combat this issue, however a lot of investigations are started by members of the public reporting information to police.

“We encourage anyone with information about the theft, re-birthing and subsequent sale of vehicles to contact police.”

Anyone with information about vehicle crime is urged to contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000 or log onto www.crimestoppersvic.com.au

/Public Release. The material in this public release comes from the originating organization and may be of a point-in-time nature, edited for clarity, style and length. View in full here.