Accused burglary gang busted

Gabrielle Knowles Chief Crime ReporterThe West Australian

Police claim they have busted a burglary gang who cleaned out entire rural properties - taking everything from machinery and guns to wine and food.

Eight men and a woman have been charged with more than 30 offences and police have recovered at least $500,000 of stolen property after raids in Upper Swan, Toodyay, Swan View and Herne Hill.

Operation Hotrod was launched in late July to target criminals who were stealing vehicles and industrial machinery from rural properties east of Perth and selling them or swapping them for drugs.

As detectives from the east metropolitan district crime team closed in on the alleged syndicate, they received reports of more extensive burglaries linked to the group, with homes in Chittering and Gidgegannup completely cleared out.

Robbers use ruse to target victims

Acting Det-Sen. Sgt Craig Stephen said a gun safe had been ripped out at one property during several hours of ransacking the house, sheds and garage. Other items allegedly stolen included vehicles, tools, machinery, a spa, televisions, computers and household items.

Police took one burglary victim to a property they had raided so he could help identify stolen items. The man allegedly found his LandCruiser had been repainted just two days after he was robbed, as well as belongings he had not yet realised were stolen.

Among those charged is a 26-year-old father of two, who police claim is a central figure in the alleged burglary network.

Police allegedly found a stolen six-tonne car hoist worth more than $120,000 on Tuesday when they raided the Herne Hill property where he lives with his parents.

Raids at seven properties netted a stolen $100,000 XY GT Ford Falcon, several other vehicles, a caravan, quad bikes, trailers and industrial equipment, according to police.

Police were also desperate to find four firearms stolen in recent months. They allegedly found those but the raids also uncovered other illegal guns, including a loaded pump-action shotgun and a sawn-off single barrel shotgun. "It's pleasing to get them off the streets for everyone's safety and so they can't be used in further crimes," Acting Det-Sen. Sgt Stephen said.

Most of the allegedly stolen belongings found by police have been returned to their owners.

Acting Det-Sen. Sgt Stephen said investigations were continuing into dozens of separate crimes, adding that Operation Hotrod had helped cut burglaries and thefts in the area.

The nine accused, aged between their late teens and mid-30s, have been charged with offences including stealing motor vehicles, receiving stolen property and drugs counts.

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