THIEVES' HAUL: Detective Senior Constable Neal Whitmee with some of the items found on a Struck Oil property.
THIEVES' HAUL: Detective Senior Constable Neal Whitmee with some of the items found on a Struck Oil property. Allan Reinikka

'Aladdin's Cave' lead investigators recognised with award

IT WAS one of the biggest crime stories of the year in the region and last week the two lead detectives were awarded for their role in what was dubbed 'Aladdin's Cave' at Struck Oil.

Detective Sergeant Stephen Paskin and Detective Senior Constable Neal Whitmee were awarded District Officer's Certificates Operational for Operation Mike Mallet which saw three men charged over a large amount of stolen goods worth more than $1 million found at a property at Struck Oil in 2014.

"It was the amount of stolen property that made that investigation unique,” Det Sgt Paskin said.

The 36ha property housed 60 cars, a bobcat, skid steer loader, semi-trailer, motorhome, caravan and building materials.

A large team of police spent more than a week at the property going through the stolen items, also uncovering an 'amphetamine-based' drug lab, after initially being called to the property for a sudden death case.

The three men appeared in Central Queensland courts late in 2015 on a string of 159 charges.

The charges included stealing, unlawful use of motor vehicles, receiving tainted property, producing dangerous drugs and other drug-related charges.

"For the first seven or eight days up at struck oil, we had anywhere up to five or 10 police working up there with us at any one time, helping us to sort through the property,” Det Sgt Paskin said.

"We were able to link a large majority of the property back to owners and return that to them.”

He said it was the biggest haul of stolen property he had dealt with in his career.

"As it went on, it built up. We were surprised at how much stolen property had been accumulated up there,” Det Sgt Paskin said.

"For the initial part, we were up at Struck Oil for about eight days. And then several months to track down owners, return the property, to charge the offenders.

"The occupants of the premises were charged.”

He said most of the property had been stolen over the course of 12 months, however, some had been stolen before that period.

"There were several items that had been missing for quite a while,” Snr Sgt Paskin said.

"There is still outstanding property from those crimes that we didn't locate.”

Gilles Roger Pallas, 53, faced court in November 2015 on 57 charges in relation to the Struck Oil case and Dean Alan Dassow, 40, faced 51 charges.

Jamie Hewitt, 48, appeared in Mackay Magistrates Court on 51 charges.

The case is still before the courts.



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