Gun theft ‘crime wave’ has Portland police worried

Police are urgently seeking public help to combat a “non-stop crime wave” after the third theft of firearms in a matter of days.

Sergeant Ray Hastings said Portland had been hit by series of gun thefts during the past fortnight — the latest victim being a Gorae farmer who reported the theft of a shotgun from his dairy on Saturday morning.

It followed the theft of a .22 rifle from a vehicle in Dutton Way overnight last Thursday, while a gun safe at a Bentinck Street property was emptied by intruders earlier in the week. The thieves are understood to have found keys to the gun safe in a shed, then taken firearms and ammunition before replacing the safe’s lock and leaving.

Three shotguns, two rifles, two air rifles, ammunition and a chainsaw with an estimated total value of $7000 were stolen.

“We urgently need the assistance of the public to stop the offending,” Sergeant Hastings said.

“The theft of firearms is of particular concern. We also urge residents to lock and secure their vehicles and property. 

“Anyone with information about any of the offences committed is requested to contact the Portland police station or Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000,” he said.

The crimes during the past fortnight have been burglaries, thefts and causing damage.

In an unrelated matter, Sergeant Hastings said a 40-year-old Portland man had been charged with obtaining financial advantage by deception and possessing cannabis at the weekend.

The man is alleged to have entered the Premix King in Richmond Street at 2.30pm on Saturday and selected a gift box of absinthe liqueur. 

He is then alleged to have replaced the bottle with another bottle of absinthe which had a higher alcohol content, paid for the item and then left the store.

The offence was detected on security camera footage. The original bottle was valued at $79 and the higher alcohol content bottle $89.

Overnight Friday, thieves stole $80 binoculars from an unlocked vehicle in Portland’s Oswald Street.

Meanwhile, a boat motor was stolen from Barwon Water Boat Installations at the Barwon Reservoir late last week. Thieves forced open a gate and cut padlocks to a shed and stole an outboard motor, welder and other power tools.

Detective Senior Constable Chris Potter, of the Colac police crime investigation unit, said a 30-year-old Eurock man had also been arrested and remanded in custody to appear in the Colac Magistrates Court today.

He has been charged with the theft of a vehicle, criminal damage by fire and theft of medication in Colac a week ago. 

The man was already on bail for drug trafficking and other offences when arrested and had been remanded in custody.

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