DETECTIVES from the Vehicle Crime Squad have arrested 18 people and seized more than 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.
It's alleged the syndicate was involved in the supply of vehicles to other criminal groups and offenders, with many of the seized vehicles linked to other incidents.
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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
- A boat
During the warrants, police also seized four high-powered firearms and ammunition, cash, drugs including methylamphetamines and cocaine, as well as hundreds of stolen power tools and auto parts.
In total, more than 800 items valued at more than $2.5 million were seized.
Twelve men and six women have been charged with more than 300 offences as part of the investigation, including a 61-year-old Lancefield woman who was charged with handling stolen goods and criminal damage by fire
She was bailed to appear at Kyneton Magistrates Court on October 12.
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A 36-year-old Romsey woman was also arrested and charged with eight offences in relation to handling stolen goods, criminal damage by fire, and possessing proceeds of crime.
She was also bailed to appear at Kyneton Magistrates Court on October 12.
A 33-year-old Lancefield man was charged 21 offences related to theft and handling stolen goods.
He was remanded in custody to appear at Kyneton Magistrates Court on September 28.
Detective Superintendent Peter Brigham, who oversees the Crime Command's State Anti-Gang Division, said the community played a key role in providing information.
"Profit motivated vehicle theft remains a significant issue for police in Victoria," he said. "We encourage anyone with information about the theft, re-birthing and subsequent sale of vehicles to contact police."
Detective Superintendent Brigham said anyone with information about vehicle crime should contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.
People could also make a confidential report at crimestoppersvic.com.au
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