On 10 August I was invited to the Southern Highlands Police Centre in Moss Vale to view hundreds of items that had been stolen since 2014. After searching through many neatly packed boxes, we found most of the small objects that had been stolen on 1 July from the Kangaroo Valley Pioneer Village Museum. The following week Garth Chittick and Peter Dumbrell went to the Police Centre, to gather the larger objects such as leather saddles as well as a number of pit saws.
A 45-year-old man has been charged with 14 counts of an alleged break, enter and steal, including the Kangaroo Valley museum, as well as other charges. He was refused bail and will appear in Wollongong Local Court on 22 August 2023.
This emphasises the amazing ability of police to carry out a long-term-complex investigation to gain justice for the community. It must have been very tiring for all police involved. We felt exhausted just looking through the massive amount of stolen goods just to find the Historical Society’s small number of objects.
Some items were marked with accession numbers, which indicated they were stolen from other museums. The police first expected the break-ins to be located in the Southern Highlands area only, until they discovered many of the items had come from the South Coast, Southern Tablelands and Central Tablelands towns. Our Facebook posts alerted them to the Kangaroo Valley break-in. Contact was made with me by Southern Highlands Police only four days after our break-in, when I was asked to give a statement. So, they were right onto further evidence collection as they had a suspect even then.
This event has brought out the caring nature of our community. Many people have asked how we were going and whether there had been anything found. I could not say too much so as not to disrupt the legal process – I apologise if anyone felt I was being secretive.
Let’s hope it will not ever happen again. Let’s all remain vigilant and keep on keeping an eye out for people and property in our beautiful community.
Kangaroo Valley Historical Society