A MT MARTHA couple woke in fright to discover “three or four” young men stealthily ransacking their home on The Esplanade, 3.30am, Saturday 22 August.
The men, described as Maori and African and in their late teens to early 20s, were using mobile phones as torches to roam from room to room, stealing items, including jewellery, from bedside tables.
They gained entry to the house by breaking into the couple’s car and using a remote control device to get in through the garage.
Detective Senior Sergeant Nick Vallas, of Mornington police, said the startled couple jumped out of bed when they saw the lights and were “fairly frightened”. When the intruders realised the occupants were awake they fled without confrontation, taking jewellery valued at $20,000.
Mornington police arrived on the scene within minutes and arrested a 24-year-old Hampton Park man standing out front beside what they initially believed to be a stolen Holden station wagon.
The man was arrested and interviewed and found to have been drinking. He claimed he had been dropped outside the house by friends and denied any knowledge of the burglary. The car was later found to be owned by a relative who told police the man “should not have been in possession of it”.
A short time later a car was reported broken into in Jasmin Av, with witnesses reporting seeing a Holden Captiva nearby. Police checks found the car had been stolen and was fitted with false number plates. They gave chase “on a number of occasions” on the night, but were unable to intercept it.
Police have been told not to engage in high speed pursuits unless a serious crime is involved.
“We have got to be very careful when engaging in pursuits,” Detective Vallas said. “We know they [suspects] are prepared to travel at fast speeds to get down here. We have to ask ourselves if [a chase] is worth a stolen ring.”
He said police were “following other avenues of inquiry and the Hampton Park man may be charged later”.