Police 'burglary crew' closing in on thieves

A NEW police unit dedicated solely to fighting Ballarat’s rising burglary rates has come down hard on serial offenders in Ballarat.

Since being formed earlier this year, the “burglary crew” has made a number of significant breakthroughs in tackling recidivist offenders and hopes arrests will help curb the rising tide of home break-ins across the city.

Made up from detectives within the Ballarat Criminal Investigation Unit, as well as experienced uniform officers, the squad has targeted burglars themselves, as well as those on the receiving end of stolen goods.

Figures released earlier this year showed just 84 out of 752 reported home burglaries were cleared by Ballarat police in the 2011-12 financial year.

However police believe the development of the new burglary crew has had a huge effect on catching big-time offenders.

Among the arrests made lately have been Aaron Heffernan, 25, who was denied bail over 99 theft charges that allegedly affected almost 50 different houses in Ballarat, mainly belonging to the elderly.

Also arrested late last week was Benjamin Cooper, who had been on the run for two years.

It is alleged Cooper committed dozens of aggravated burglary and theft offences.

He remains in custody and will front court later this week.

Ballarat CIU Detective Sergeant Craig Dooley said the arrests sent a message to other offenders that police were hot on their tail.

“It’s about getting the people who have been responsible for a number of offences, not just in Ballarat, but everywhere,” he said.

“We’re also targeting the people who are on the receiving ends of stolen goods. Quite often these people will commit other crimes as well, so it is important to catch up with 

them early.”

The burglary crew was established about four months ago in response to police statistics released in August that showed burglary continued to rise.

Figures are still higher in the last month compared to the same time last year, but Detective Dooley 

said police were tackling the issue head-on.

“It’s been recognised burglaries are an issue, that’s why there is an added focus,” he said.

“Innocent people are affecting by these crimes and we need to do our utmost to protect them and punish those

responsible.”

patrick.nolan@fairfaxmedia.com.au

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