By Ethan Benedicto
A 37-year-old man from Narre Warren was arrested on Wednesday 8 November for stealing a rare Mustang from Ferntree Gully in October.
The man was charged with theft of a motor vehicle, specifically a $400,000 Ford Mustang Shelby GT500KR, a car that is one of a kind in Australia and one of 24 across the globe.
In addition, he was also charged with driving while disqualified and possessing drugs of dependence.
A search warrant was executed at a residential address in Carrum Downs on 1 November, where the vehicle was recovered with minor damages.
Craig Dean, owner of Mustang Motorsport, was relieved when he was informed by detective senior constable Michael Gatt that the vehicle had been recovered.
“He rang me up and said ‘you’re going to have to bring your spare keys out to me’ and I said ‘oh, beauty, you found it?’”, Mr Dean said.
There were initial concerns that the vehicle had been broken down and stripped for parts, but detective senior constable Gatt assured that would be unlikely.
“Because of its value and rarity, I expected the car would be kept in some sort of good condition, which is mostly the case,” Mr Gatt said.
In the span of its absence, the car had been repainted black and the spoiler was removed, all of which proved to be an easy fix for Mr Dean’s team.
“It was relatively easy to put it back to where it should be,
“The boys looked at it and they were able to peel the paint off, thanks to a sealant we use on our cars, and there was no major damage.”
As a car enthusiast himself, and a fellow Ford fan, Mr Gatt said he was “probably more relieved than Craig”.
“This investigation took a lot of long days, especially as it went on but it’s good to see the car handed back to its owner and brought back to its former glory.”
These charges initially came as the report went through at 3.45pm on Wednesday 11 October, where two men were captured by CCTV entering the workshop and driving off with the vehicle.
Being on holiday at the time, Mr Dean was contacted by workshop manager James, who had informed him of the vehicle’s theft.
As for Mr Gatt, cases like these were rather common occurrences for him and his team.
“It’s not unusual to search for cars this rare, particularly because of the value, its rarity and its attention.
“It’s a big asset for a business, and a person, to lose,” Mr Gatt said.
As for Mr Dean and his team, he is grateful to authorities and the community for the help in finding the vehicle and having it returned home.
“I didn’t want to put too much pressure on anyone and make a big deal about it, that doesn’t solve anything.
“It was just a material thing, no one was hurt but it was of course a financial loss – I wasn’t crying but I was disappointed,” Mr Dean said.
The Narre Warren man appeared in the Magistrates Court on 9 November and another 32-year-old Carrum Downs man was interviewed and released without charge.