Crime spree hits car yard, houses

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Drive-away thieves: Peter and Warren Steward spent Monday cleaning up damage at their West Bay Car Sales, Hastings which was targeted by thieves early in the morning. The thieves stole car keys from a special safe before leaving with five vehicles. Picture: Gary Sissons

BURGLARS cut through a wire fence and into a Hastings car yard, 4.30am Monday (3 June), before stealing more than $100,000 in vehicles and computer equipment.

The incident was one of a series of aggravated burglaries on both sides of the Mornington Peninsula over the weekend. Possibly the same offenders were involved in the raids.

Two Mitsubishi Triton dual-cab utes, Toyota Hi-Lux, Ford Ranger and a Nissan Dualis SUV were among five vehicles stolen from West Bay Car Sales, of Marine Parade. The haul also included the yard’s key safe, laptop and a mobile phone, totalling about $105,000.

It has been a horror month for the 32-year-old car business which has been hit twice by thieves in the past five months.

Manager Warren Steward said as well as the robberies the family owned business, started by his father Peter in 1987, had been frustrated by NBN “stuff ups” over the past three weeks in which the wrong phone number was ported through to their business, effectively shutting them down.

“We read about these things happening and touch wood hoping it won’t happen to us, and then it does,” he said. “It took me two days to work out what had happened.”

In yesterday’s raid, at least five thieves cut through the wire fence and flattened a section to clear a path for the cars. They then smashed a glass door and disabled the power and stole CCTV equipment and back-up batteries. Using a dummy key, they forced their way into the office’s key safe and stole 19 sets of vehicle keys as well as office keys.

Mr Steward said the thieves also ransacked the office, rifled through drawers and cupboards, and stole a laptop and phone valued at $3000, before driving off with their booty.

“We’re spending the morning cleaning up broken glass and trying to secure the property as best we can,” he said. “And we are still trying to work out exactly what else was stolen.”

Two days earlier, burglars fled empty handed from a house in Nelson Street, Shoreham, 4.20am, Saturday 1 June. Detective Senior Sergeant Allan Paxton, of Somerville CIU, said the occupants awoke after hearing their front door closing and saw two cars leaving the area. Nothing was reported stolen.

Earlier, a Volkswagen Golf station wagon, registration 1AY8ZX, was stolen from a house in Howard Street, Shoreham. Police saw the car about 1.45am the next day in Hull Road, Mt Martha, and followed it to Peninsula Link where it sped off forcing them to give up the chase.

Two neighbouring houses in Hull Road were burgled about 5am on Saturday (1 June). A resident in one of the houses heard their garage door opening but reported nothing stolen. At the other property, car keys and a garage door remote control were stolen before the offenders were disturbed and fled. No one was injured in the incidents.

Senior Constable Alistair Parsons, of Police Media, said detectives believed at least two of the burglars were Caucasian and spoke with Australian accents.

Anyone with any information should contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000 or crimestoppersvic.com.au

First published in the Western Port Times – 5 June 2019

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