Cold case cop: Constable busts open 20-year-old crimes

Constables Justin Drier and Simon Giuliano.
Constables Justin Drier and Simon Giuliano. Alasdair Young

SEARCHING through old files at the Tara police station on a Friday night might not sound like a good time, but for district crime prevention officer Constable Justin Drier, it's a crucial part of cleaning up the district.

The job has been dubbed "Operation Profugus" and will run for another five weeks as Const Drier processes a 20-year backlog of crimes, ranging from drug possession, burglary and fraud to old parking tickets.

So far, roughly 75 people wanted in the Tara area have been identified as wanted, 30 of who have been intercepted by the police, resulting in six charges.

Some of those wanted had died or had their files resolved elsewhere, while others had simply slipped through the cracks of the justice system.

"This was something I opted to do myself," Const Drier said.

"My aim is to have no wanted people left in the Tara district."

Const Drier said the offenders, most of them now in middle age, were "very, very surprised" to be bailed up by police after years of good behaviour.

In January, police intercepted a man who had skipped state before returning to Tara late in 2014. He had committed a burglary in 1998 and also faced 10 outstanding charges.

"He's 40 now, so he was 24 when he committed the offences. He said he couldn't even remember doing it," Const Drier said.

"It just goes to show, we'll get you eventually."

More than half of the files have now been processed, either reactivated and brought to the attention of another police division or concluded in the case of a wanted person's death.

One of the major changes in the early 1990s was the switch from hard copy to digitised reports, meaning crimes committed prior to this period would likely never be resolved.

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