DECK THE HALL: Police to reunite victims with long, lost goods

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DOZENS of people identified jewellery yesterday they thought long lost to North East and southern Riverina burglaries.

More than a thousand pieces of jewellery, plus other items, valued at hundreds of thousands of dollars were laid out on trestle tables by police in the Bundalong Hall.

The identification process with possible owners will continue throughout today.

Up to a dozen police from both sides of the border were helping people through the process.

A Yarrawonga woman, 44, faces 45 charges of burglary and 43 of theft over burglaries in which she allegedly stole goods valued at $350,000 over the past two years.

Robyn Ferguson is accused of targeting homes in Cobram, Benalla, Yarrawonga, Wangaratta, Rutherglen, Corowa and Howlong.

The three-month investigation — Operation Endurable — was led by Cobram detective Sen-Constable Mat Prestage and Benalla detective Leading Sen-Constable Peter Clifford.

Sen-Constable Prestage said yesterday that after the woman was charged, police were able to identify up to 100 people who were possible victims.

“As a result of search warrants, we seized over a thousand individual items of jewellery,” he said.

EDITORIAL: Hard task has its rewards

Sen-Constable Prestage said the people attending the hall had been invited to do so by police.

“If they identify something that’s theirs we get a statement off them to that effect and put it aside,” he said.

“It’s basically gathering further evidence.”

Sen-Constable Prestage said the jewellery needed to remain in police hands until the matter was no longer before the courts.

“Nobody is taking anything away today,” he said.

Sen-Constable Prestage said up to 50 people attended the hall yesterday.

“Probably up to 80 per cent of the people have had success identifying something, whether it be a ring or a brooch or a camera,” he said.

Sen-Constable Prestage said the results so far had shown that police inquiries were spot on in identifying possible owners, though it had been a complex job getting to this point.

“It’s been very time consuming in so far as photographing it, recording it and then subsequently putting it out on display,” he said.

Sen-Constable Prestage said people were quite surprised when they found something, “but they’re also very disappointed that a lot of the more valuable things are gone”.

He said it was unusual for there to be such a large number of items on display for identification by owners.

“You work on jobs where you get some big things stolen and they’re easy to trace back, but delicate items such as jewellery are very hard to identify,” he said.

Ferguson — who is in custody until her next court appearance in March — was one of four people charged following raids and arrests in Yarrawonga and Mulwala late last month during which police seized more than 500 stolen items.

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