THE arrest of a man last week over an aggravated burglary and a number of thefts at rural properties in the Wellington Shire has highlighted the need for rural property owners to be vigilant.
Police arrested a 34-year-old man in Sale last Tuesday and executed warrants on Wednesday, recovering a range of items allegedly stolen from rural properties.
Police allege the man was involved in an aggravated burglary in Maffra in June, where the home owner returned to her rural property at lunchtime to discover the intruder inside.
She told police the man ran outside to an accomplice waiting in a vehicle, and the pair left empty handed.
Detective Senior Constable Scott Chandler said the woman was able to identify a suspect from photos, he was arrested last week and is in custody awaiting trial.
Items recovered after warrants were executed included engraved jewellery allegedly taken from a rural property in Stratford earlier this year, and items allegedly taken during a separate burglary in Sale.
The alleged offender has been charged with theft offences and aggravated burglary.
Detective Senior Constable Chandler, who is the station’s agricultural liaison officer, said rural properties continued to be “easy targets”, and urged home owners to be vigilant with security.
He said burglaries were common on farms and isolated properties, and rural properties in the Wellington Shire were targeted almost weekly.
The most commonly stolen items included chainsaws, ride-on mowers, fishing gear, laptops and iPads.
Police also recovered a firearm during the execution of a warrant last week.
Theft of firearms is also continuing to cause headaches for local police, with few ever recovered, and many ending up on the black market.
Detective Senior Constable Chandler said farmers were required to keep guns in locked compartments, but determined thieves were still often able to access them.
Figures from the Crime Statistics Agency show that between April last year and March this year, 760 firearms were reportedly stolen from Victorian households, down 53 on the previous year.
Of the weapons taken, 220 were shotguns, 325 were rifles and 20 were handguns.
Figures from the year before show 366 guns were reported stolen in rural areas, compared to 264 in Melbourne.
A report released last year by Gippsland’s Federation University criminal justice lecturer Alistair Harkness showed a link between firearms stolen from farms across rural and regional areas, and urban crime.