A cross-border crime gang targeted vulnerable rural premises like farms and a government storage facility in a high-value stealing spree that netted its members machinery, chemicals and more.
Details of the group's escapades can be revealed after one member, self-employed builder Kieren Vecchi, confessed in multiple courts to crimes committed in both the ACT and NSW.
Vecchi, 29, admitted he and co-offender Jason Adam Reid entered a commercial shed in Canberra in May 2020 and stole goods including an almost brand new bobcat that had cost its owner about $45,000.
Justice John Burns sentenced him in the ACT Supreme Court earlier this year to 20 months in jail for burglary and theft, with three weeks behind bars before the balance of the term was suspended.
But those crimes were only the tip of the iceberg for the builder from Googong in NSW, who recently pleaded guilty to several more charges relating to earlier incidents in nearby NSW.
Documents tendered in Queanbeyan Local Court show that in April 2020, police on both sides of the border started looking into "multiple instances of chemical and equipment thefts from depots and rural properties".
Investigators raided six properties associated with Vecchi and two other men the following month, recovering "a significant amount" of stolen property.
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They found evidence that Vecchi and one of the others had scoped out different properties on March 23 last year, texting each other pictures and other details of their intended targets.
Two nights later, the pair broke into a shipping container at an ACT Parks and Conservation Service depot in Googong, stealing "various herbicides and rural-related equipment" worth $6250.
They also hit a Hoskinstown property, breaking the locks on a number of sheds and shipping containers. From those, the pair stole "various items of machinery, tools and farm equipment" valued at $27,400.
On the same night, the men also stole 600 litres of diesel, worth an estimated $700, from two pieces of machinery that were being stored overnight on a rural property in Primrose Valley.
Vecchi pleaded guilty over these incidents to two counts of breaking, entering and stealing, and one count of larceny.
They had done so "for the direct benefit" of a rural contracting business owned by one of the men, according to the documents.
Vecchi is due to be sentenced for the NSW offences on July 12.
Reid has a number of NSW charges, including participating in a criminal group, still on foot in Queanbeyan Local Court.
He is currently serving an intensive correction order in the ACT after being sentenced by Justice Michael Elkaim in April for the bobcat theft and other offences.