A Bendigo man has been charged with a string of copper thefts in Horsham and western Victoria, after DNA allegedly linked him to the crimes committed seven years ago.
Detective Senior Constable Richard Hughes, of the Warrnambool police crime investigation unit, said a 38-year-old Kennington man has been charged with a series of burglaries and thefts committed in 2013.
The man was arrested in Bendigo last week, interviewed, charged and bailed to appear in the Warrnambool Magistrates Court on November 23.
"His DNA came back in late June as a match to the crime scene at the Terang substation where two 40 kilogram drums of copper worth thousands of dollars were stolen," he said.
"That theft was committed between May 2 and May 6 in 2013."
Detective Senior Constable Hughes said investigations revealed that in a three-week period at about that time three other power substations were similarly targeted.
"Forensic evidence linked him to the Terang offence but there were other substations burgled about that time at Ararat, Stawell and Bacchus Marsh and there was also a retail outlet hit at Horsham," he said.
"As a result of those crime reports I believe those offences are linked."
The total value of the copper stolen is believed to be well in excess of $10,000.
"I strongly suspect that he was supporting a drug habit at that time," the investigator said.
"He was checked by police at Horsham in the early morning on April 29 and there was the theft at Horsham just prior to that.
"The offence at Terang was committed between May 2-6 and he was intercepted by police in the early morning on May 4 at Colac.
"He was in possession of a balaclava, gloves, torches, an ice pipe and drug residue, as well as tin snips and wire cutters.
"A policewoman made an information report at that time which helped enormously."
Detective Senior Constable Hughes said the man arrested had been a long-time central Victorian resident.
"He was in this area at that time. It will be alleged he went on a road trip purely to commit crimes and steal copper," he said.
"I don't believe he came down here for the purposes of R&R (rest and relaxation), I believe he came down here for B&T (burglaries and thefts)," he said.
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