It was a bitter sweet experience for victims of a burglary syndicate when they entered the Bundalong Hall looking for stolen treasures last week.FIONA BLICK December 19, 2013 4:04pm
Detectives involved in Operation Endurable, a joint police task force involving officers from Cobram, Wangaratta, Wodonga, Benalla and Albury, lined the hall with thousands of stolen items including jewellery and electrical goods and invited victims to a viewing in the hope of matching up these valuable possessions with their rightful owners.
Operation Endurable began in September after a connection was made between around 80 house burglaries and thefts committed in towns along the border of Victoria and NSW.
Cobram’s Det Snr-Constable Matt Prestage said the viewing had been a tremendous success.
“We have shown 80 separate victims through and over half have identified some of their property,” Det Snr-Cst Prestage said.
“This property will be returned to them once the court process has finished.
“There has been a lot of mixed emotions.
“Victims are elated they have found something of theirs but there is also deep sadness because they realise the majority, particularly the more valuable items, will never be recovered.”
Margaret Anderson from Wangaratta is one such victim who spoke with the Yarrawonga Chronicle as she was searching through the jewellery cache at the Bundalong Hall for pieces that were stolen when her house was burgled in July.
“It has been an extremely distressing time,” Margaret said.
“I have been lucky enough to find a pendant my mother bought me for Christmas and also my step daughter’s iphone which is wonderful.
“However, there are a few sentimental items that will probably never be recovered including a ring belonging to my great grandmother, but finding these few pieces is good.”
Benalla’s Det Snr-Constable Peter Clifford said the viewing had been a “satisfying” experience for the detectives involved in Operation Endurable.
“Talking with the victims and seeing the smiles on their faces when they find something of theirs is very satisfying,” he said.
“Detectives have been handing out victim impact statement forms to people coming in to view these items; these statements allow the victims to let the judge know how these burglaries have affected them personally.
“This is extremely important as it shows the court that the impact of burglaries is deeply felt.”
Det Snr Cst Clifford said following further information given to police, the timeline of these burglaries has now widened.
“The earliest report of this type of burglary is now 2008 so we are extending our investigation further,” he said.
Detectives raided four homes on Thursday, November 28 including a property in Telford Street, Yarrawonga and Bayly Street, Mulwala in a coordinated sting aimed at nabbing the alleged ringleader of a burglary syndicate which accumulated a large amount of jewellery, believed to be in excess of $350,000 in value, and a quantity of cash.
A Yarrawonga woman, 44, was charged with 45 burglary offences and 43 theft offences along with five counts of trafficking in a drug of dependence.
She made no application for bail and has been remanded into custody to appear again in Wangaratta Magistrates Court for a committal mention on March 6, 2014.
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