Victims of crime urged to reclaim stolen goods
SEARCH warrants and raids on local criminals who’ve stockpiled huge quantities of stolen goods have outstripped the ability of police to find the rightful owners.
Inspector Dan Skelly said the exhibit room at Dubbo’s police station is overflowing with all sorts of property they’d love to give back to owners.
“We’ve got a large amount of tools – very expensive tools or tools somebody is missing,” Inspector Skelly told Dubbo Photo News.
“(The rightful owners) just need to attend the police station, provide some sort of proof of who they are and give us the circumstances under which they lost their tools, and we may be able to reunite them with their property – that’s what our objective is,” he said.
“We’ve recovered a hell of a lot of property we suspect has been stolen. There’s a large amount of jewellery there.
“The jewellery is precious to people, so we encourage them to come and see us.
Whilst it’s possible local police may not have property belonging to you, whilst ever there’s a chance they do, then Insp Skelly said it’s worth checking in. “You’ll never know unless you come down and ask us.”
He says police don’t like to see unclaimed stolen goods simply auctioned off to the highest bidder, especially when the items could hold significant sentimental value for the owners.
“It hits home more when you look at the jewellery because jewellery is such a personal item. Some of it could be family heirlooms.”
Insp Skelly described it as “frustrating” when police have to send unclaimed items to auction. “We realise that there’s someone out there that this jewellery belongs to, but we just can’t find them or they haven’t come forward.”
Once items are resold to somebody else, police won’t have any hope of reuniting them with their rightful owner.
Money from the auctioned items doesn’t come directly back to the Dubbo community, it ends up in the state government’s consolidated general revenue, meaning once it’s left the city, no-one here benefits from the sale.
Inspector Skelly says a major frustration is that many people still don’t bother reporting crimes in the first place because some victims believe police can’t do anything to help, or they don’t want to waste officers’ time – that makes it almost impossible for police to match stolen goods with victims.
“If people have been a victim of crime, please report it, because sometimes people think ‘oh I’ve only lost an angle grinder or a couple of drills so there’s probably nothing the police can do so I won’t bother reporting it’,” Inspector Skelly said.
“If we end up with it here but we don’t have anything to tie the items back to the original owner, we then search our records. If we know that someone had their garage broken into and a large amount of tools had been taken, then we could possibly make the connection.
“So we encourage people not to be blasé – if they are a victim of crime, report it, because we may have their property, we may be able to solve their dilemma.
“It’s very satisfying to execute a search warrant at a criminal’s house and find equipment that we can trace back to someone – it’s very fulfilling.
“We’ve solved the crime, and we’ve fulfilled our charter to the community,” he said.
Inspector Dan Skelly with some of the stolen goods currently being held at Dubbo Police Station, waiting for their rightful owners to come forward.