A 22-year-old man has been charged with the alleged theft of $100,000 worth of stolen property inside shipping containers from Thomas P Carroll Reserve in Dandenong and a Cranbourne address.
Greater Dandenong CIU detectives say three containers containing memorabilia and property of a cricket club, a football club and a local council were taken from the reserve on Box Street, Dandenong on 9 October.
A dumped container with some of the clubs’ property was found by police in Grantville on 27 October.
Detectives raided an address in Langwarrin South on 9 November, locating other allegedly stolen goods.
Two other containers were found – with one believed to contain council lawn maintenance equipment stolen from a Cranbourne property on 5 November.
The items were returned to their rightful owners, police say.
Miraculously, St Mary’s Cricket Club recovered much of its irreplaceable goods such as honour boards, trophies and premiership photos which were inside one of the allegedly stolen containers.
A $5000 set of wicket covers was also retrieved. Some items remain missing or were damaged, club secretary Gary Cake said.
“It’s fantastic news overall. We’d been resigned to the fact that they were gone forever.
“The main thing was getting back all that history that had been lost. All of that can’t be replaced.”
However, St John’s Old Collegians Football Club estimates it has only recovered 20 per cent of its priceless memorabilia.
“You can’t replace history,” club president Peter Kelly said.
Both clubs had been using shipping containers as temporary storage facilities while Greater Dandenong Council’s $6 million WJ Crowe Pavilion was being built.
Despite being officially opened with much fanfare two months ago, the pavilion remains closed – much to the frustration of the tenants.
Seven weeks into the 2023-’24 season, the cricket club had lost further financially by not having access to the pavilion’s kitchen, canteen and bar, Mr Page said.
“There’s been some minor technical issues, we’ve been told. We’re hoping to be in there by the end of next week.
“It’s hurting us financially and socially. We’ve got nowhere to congregate after a match or training.”
Delayed construction has meant the clubs haven’t had a home pavilion for three years. Collectively, they had lost $100,000 over the past two years while they waited, Mr Kelly said.
“Footy is big business. It takes about $150,000 to run a small club.”
Greater Dandenong Council did not respond before deadline.
A Langwarrin South man has been charged with 10 counts of theft and three counts of handling stolen goods.
He was bailed to appear at Dandenong Magistrates’ Court on 28 March.
Investigations are ongoing.
Any information to Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000 or crimestoppersvic.com.au