A sweeping effort dubbed Operation Victor Surface is underway in the suburbs north of Brisbane and in Moreton Bay, as part of efforts to curb the rampant theft of copper wire across those areas.
The operation is enlisting the support of the public in reporting similar crimes in order to assist ongoing investigations.
On 4 Aug 2023, a targeted search warrant was executed at a property on Kinsellas Road in Mango Hill. During the operation, a substantial cache of allegedly stolen copper wire was uncovered. Notably, police also seized a variety of tools, a firearm, and registration plates from a shed on the premises.
A 47-year-old resident of Mango Hill was apprehended and subsequently charged with multiple offences. These include two counts each of copper theft, receiving stolen copper and tools, and possession of dangerous drugs (cannabis and diazepam).
Additionally, the suspect faces charges of possessing a Category A weapon (rifle), explosives (ammunition), and drug paraphernalia (pipe and scales), as well as three counts of stealing registration plates. The accused appeared at the Pine Rivers Magistrates Court on 15 Sept 2023.
In the wake of this apprehension, law enforcement also executed search warrants at addresses in Camira and South Brisbane on 12 and 15 August. During these operations, investigators uncovered stripped insulation materials and documents indicating the sale of over 1.9 tonnes of copper wire to metal recyclers over a six-week period.
A 39-year-old Camira resident has also found himself facing a litany of charges, including entering premises and committing an indictable offence, fraud, stealing, possessing dangerous drugs and drug paraphernalia, as well as various traffic-related matters. The accused remains in police custody, with his next court appearance set for 16 October in Brisbane Magistrates Court.
Similarly, a 38-year-old Karalee man found himself in custody, facing charges of four counts of entering premises and committing an indictable offence, possessing dangerous drugs and drug paraphernalia, and various driving offences. He appeared at the Brisbane Magistrates Court on 15 September.
Furthermore, a 35-year-old South Brisbane resident has been charged with six counts of entering premises to commit an indictable offence, stealing, and fraud on 28 August.
Operation Victor Surface investigators assert that the suspects apprehended in these operations have caused over $320,000 in damages and significant delays in various infrastructure projects across the greater Brisbane region. The theft of copper wire and other metals not only jeopardizes the safety of the thieves themselves but also poses substantial risks to legitimate workers and the wider community.
Law enforcement agencies are urging the public to remain vigilant and report any information related to copper thefts. They emphasize the importance of reporting anything that appears suspicious or out of place.
In a statement, Energex underscored the dangerous consequences of stealing copper and other equipment from the electricity network. Thieves have not only suffered injuries and fatalities but have also endangered innocent bystanders by leaving live sections of the high-voltage electricity network exposed.
Additionally, the community has borne the financial burden of the necessary repairs following such thefts. Energex expressed their gratitude to the Queensland Police Service for their dedicated efforts in apprehending copper thieves.
Energex encourages the public to immediately report any suspicious activities around or damage to the electricity network, emphasizing the paramount importance of public safety and community well-being.
Operation Victor Surface represents an ongoing commitment to combat copper theft in the region, with authorities determined to address this perilous and costly criminal activity head-on.