Help crack unsolved crimes

Written By miftah nugraha on Sabtu, 27 April 2013 | 19.55

DARING robberies, a drive-by shooting, a jewellery heist ... help Tasmania Police crack our top 10 unsolved crimes.

IN ONE of the most audacious armed robberies in Tasmania in recent times, two masked bandits waited in a stolen vehicle in the car park of the Eastern Shore hotel until they spotted their target at 1pm.

The bandits had spray-painted dots on the car's windows to hide their balaclava-clad faces en route to the hotel an indication these two knew exactly what they were doing.

Another sign this was beyond an amateur armed robbery was the fact both people were dressed in blue coverall suits.

As an unarmed cash transit officer walked out of the hotel with close to $40,000 from the long weekend's pokies takings, the pair pulled up beside him in their car. One leapt out of the car brandishing a sawn-off shotgun and the terrified victim handed over the cash without a fight.

Despite the release of CCTV footage and a media event at the fishing spot where the car was dumped, no one has been charged.

THERE are striking similarities in the professional approach to the Elwick Hotel robbery just a few months after the Beltana Hotel was hit.

Police suspect the two crimes may be linked.

As with the Lindisfarne crime, both offenders, believed to be male, wore balaclavas and again the weapon of choice was a sawn-off shotgun. As with the previous case, police released good-quality CCTV footage, this time showing the pair entering the hotel bar area at 3.30am wearing dark clothing, gloves and hoodies pulled over their heads.

They are seen to wave their guns in the direction of two female staff members who immediately empty the till, then collect more money from another room and hand it over the bar.

Police did not reveal how much was taken, but it is believed to be in the tens of thousands.

This time the offenders are believed to have escaped on a stolen motorbike.

"Of course it's a concern when a firearm is used in any incident and obviously we want to catch these people as quickly as possible. Given the similarities with the earlier robbery ... there is a risk they could strike again," Detective Inspector David Plumpton said at the time.

THE OVERNIGHT raid on an Old Beach home did little to quell rumours the state's firearms database had been breached, leaving gun owners feeling increasingly vulnerable.

In the biggest residential gun heist in years, intruders broke into the house and stole a correctly installed gun safe containing 14 firearms. Police feared the guns might be used to commit crimes, but admitted it was also highly likely they would be shipped interstate and sold, with detectives holding little hope of recovering the weapons.

The heist prompted Gun Control Australia spokesman Roland Browne to condemn what he described as an increasingly firearm-friendly culture in Tasmania, where storage requirements were too lax and criminals could pick and choose who and where to target.

THE FIRST drive-by shooting to rock Hobart in a long time remains a mystery because, unlike those that followed, this shooting was not directly attributable to a known dispute between feuding sides.

A woman in her 60s, her adult son and daughter and the daughter's two young children were inside the Maxwell Drive home at the time. Police said it was lucky no one was killed, with one of the shotgun volleys fired from a vehicle smashing the kitchen window and hitting the microwave. The culprit was seen speeding away in a white sedan at 6.30pm.

THE NORTH was rocked by the news a man had been shot in the back for no apparent reason on his way to work.

The 34-year-old noticed a group of males in Ferrall St, in the suburb of Invermay. One of the men yelled something at him, police said, but he kept walking.

He then heard loud gunshots and made it back to his nearby home where he discovered he had been shot.

Police say the victim now suffering a permanent disability denies any links to or knowledge of his assailants.

JEWELLERY has always been a favourite of snatch-and-grab burglars, but the theft of a 20kg safe from a Taroona residence suggested these thieves knew exactly what treasures were inside.

The Grange Ave house was robbed while the residents were out for a couple of hours that evening and an estimated $150,000 worth of jewellery that police described as "highly identifiable" was stolen.

Detectives called in to investigate issued a warning to anyone with valuable jewels to ensure their valuables were stored in safes that burglars would struggle to remove.

Most devastating for the victims was the fact their precious items were likely sold later for a pittance. "It's devastating for these people to learn their precious jewellery has been sold for $10 or $20," Insp Plumpton said.

"When we tell the owners what's happened they're shattered."

The jewellery has never been recovered.

AN ELDERLY widow was roused from her bedroom by the sound of glass smashing. When she went to investigate, she was confronted by two masked men in the living room and a third man in the backyard.

They told her they did not want to hurt her, then made their way into her bedroom where they ripped a freshly installed safe out of the floor.

It held tens of thousands of dollars' cash and irreplaceable jewellery.

The traumatised homeowner ran past the men and escaped to a neighbour's to alert police, before suffering a non-fatal cardiac arrest two days later.

"What kind of person does something like this?" her daughter asked.

That question is yet to be answered with police so far unable to bring anyone to justice over the chilling burglary though locals apparently have their suspicions.

A HOBART man was lucky to escape uninjured when his vehicle was targeted by a carjacker armed with a firearm as he waited in the Spirit of Tasmania car park.

The 27-year-old victim was sitting inside his black Toyota utility with a large boat on a trailer attached in the late afternoon in Devonport.

A masked man jumped in the ute's passenger side and demanded the driver follow a white utility in front of them.

The offender produced a sawn-off shotgun and threatened the driver, who escaped by throwing himself from the vehicle at low speed in Murray St. The gunman fired the weapon from inside the vehicle and was last seen running down Tarleton St.

The victim suffered minor injuries when he hit the road and was helped by shocked bystanders.

Police admitted they had no idea what the assailant was up to and were confident he was not known to the victim, who departed on the ferry a day later than planned.

THE CASE of a ginger-bearded man lurking near children on Hobart's streets 18 months ago continues to trouble police.

In both cases, two near-victims described a sandy-haired man with a red or ginger coloured goatee beard pulling up beside them in a ute.

The first target was a nine-year-old boy walking along Pottery Rd at Lenah Valley at 4.20pm on November 3

The predator offered the child lollies then grabbed him, but the boy screamed and got away after a brief struggle.

The second attempt happened in the grounds of Ogilvie High School at New Town when a male fitting the earlier description grabbed a 12-year-old boy by his backpack in the early morning. A struggle ensued and the boy also escaped.

The attacks caused significant fear in the community, with schools issuing widespread warnings to staff and parents, possibly causing the man to go to ground.

IT WASN'T cash these thieves were after but high-end street clothing. The offenders rammed a stolen car through the inner-city store's glass shopfront at 2am. The pay-off was a haul of new clothes worth more than $30,000.

The ram-raiders ripped entire racks from the wall, leaving little behind for the store owner when she arrived to survey the damage later in the morning.

Police say a silver Subaru Liberty sedan stolen from Alwyn Rd at Lenah Valley at 10.30pm the night before was used in the crime.

"Most of [what's gone] is men's clothing, but they've obviously grabbed a few things for their girlfriends too," owner Britt Hoskinson said.

zara.dawtrey@news.com.au

  • Anyone with any information about any of these crimes is urged to contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000. Callers can remain anonymous and rewards are offered.

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