A PORTLAND gang of thieves who stole special copper wiring valued at more than $250,000 have been arrested and charged.
Detective Sergeant Jason von Tunk, of the Portland police crime investigation unit said the three-person gang had been stealing copper in and around Portland for more than three months.
That led to Operation Annonas being established by police to target the gang.
"The last of the three gang members was arrested last Thursday,” Detective Sergeant von Tunk said.
“Two Portland men, aged 53 and 31, and a 44-year-old Portland woman have now been arrested, interviewed and charged with nine offences, involving burglary, theft and dishonestly obtaining property by deception.
"The charged trio will appear in the Portland Magistrates Court on May 30. The thefts started in February this year."
The detective said there had been a number of break-ins at businesses, including those associated with wind farm manufacturing, Keppel Prince and TW Power Services.
"During those burglaries rolls and anodes of copper have been targeted because of their significant resale value," he said.
"In one of the offences a 300-metre long cable was stolen,which was a special overseas order costing $250,000.
"That cable was needed to replace existing wiring and if that work was not done the wind turbines could have been damaged."
Detective Sergeant von Tunk said the value of the copper contained in the cable was just $4000 and the thieves only got a fraction of that when they traded it.
"That cable was very fortunately identified and recovered at a scrap metal yard ," he said.
"But a team of special technicians had been flown out from Germany to replace the cable at a cost of more than $20,000 and that work was unable to be done.
"Part of the police brief of evidence will be a compensation order for $30,000."
The investigator said thieves had been and would continue to target items which contain high value metals such as copper.
"We would warn anyone who has such items to review their security and ensure they have the necessary protection for their goods, including security cameras," Detective Sergeant von Tunk said.
On Saturday Portland police executed a search warrant at an Arkell Court address and found a number of stolen batteries.
"We seized four batteries with a value of about $30 each. Two had already had the lead removed from them. They had been dismantled and the plastic casings discarded," he said.
"Lead is valued at about the same as copper at present and these four batteries had been stolen."
A 65-year-old Portland man, who had recently moved from South Australia, was arrested, interviewed, charged and bailed to appear in the Portland court on June 27.
He has been charged with handling stolen goods.