Armed Crime Squad detectives have made a breakthrough in their investigation into a series of western Victorian burglaries and thefts of automatic teller machines (ATM’s) with the arrest of three men early this morning.

The men, a 34-year-old from Wendouree, 38-year-old from Haddon and a 41-year-old from Brown Hill were arrested with the assistance of Ballarat Divisional Response Unit, about 7am following the execution of five warrants in:

– King Street Ballarat, East

– Head Street, Wendouree

– Spring Court, Corindhap

– Wilsons Road, Haddon and

– Ryan Street, Brown Hill

The arrests follow an extensive investigation into seven burglaries, thefts and attempted thefts on a variety of business premises including:

– A community centre in Beaufort on 29 November 2018

– A book shop in Creswick on 14 December 2018

– An opportunity shop in Skipton on 15 December 2018

– A bank in Dunkeld on 29 December 2018

– A community centre in Lake Bolac on 29 December 2018

– A marina in Queenscliff on 13 January 2019

– A newsagency in Clunes on Monday 4 March 2019

On each occasion it is alleged the thieves targeted ATMs with either heavy equipment vehicles used to crash through street shop fronts or equipment used to force entry to the premises.

Police have released images of the most recent incident and damage at Clunes.

It is alleged a substantial sum of money was stolen during some of the break-ins.

Detectives have seized a number of firearms, cars, grinders, a sledgehammer and items believed to be related to the ATM thefts.

The trio are currently assisting police with their enquiries and are expected to appear at Ballarat Magistrates’ Court later today.

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