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Arson attack in Thomastown under investigation

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Jordyn Grubisic
Jordyn Grubisic
Jordyn Grubisic is a senior journalist for the North Central Review primarily covering politics at all levels and sport with a particular interest in basketball. Since 2019 she has worked for several publications across Victoria including most recently at the Alexandra Standard and Yea Chronicle. She is always keen to hear from local community members about issues they face and has an interest in crime and court reporting.

A suspicious fire in Thomastown on Thursday, February 22 is being treated by investigators as linked to an arson attack in Thornbury hours earlier.

Detectives from Taskforce Lunar are investigating the circumstances surrounding the two suspicious fires with the first incident occurring around 1.50am when emergency services were called to a multi-purpose function and dining space on Matisi Street in Thornbury following reports of a fire.

Police are investigating whether a burnt-out 2009 Land Cruiser Wagon found dumped in Mason Street in Reservoir is linked to the incident.

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The vehicle was stolen during an aggravated burglary which was committed in Heidelberg on January 31 and was found with cloned plates bearing the registration 1WD6TA.

Emergency services were called to a second fire at a reception centre on Settlement Road in Thomastown shortly after 6am.

Shortly after this fire, a stolen 2018 Ford Ranger Utility was located on fire in Nathan Court, Bundoora.

The vehicle was bearing registration plates 1BG2vI and was stolen from an aggravated burglary in Wonga Park on February 20.

Nobody was physically harmed during either incident, but both businesses sustained significant damage.

Taskforce Lunar Detective Inspector Graham Banks said a lot of the arson attacks are to do with the money involved in the tobacco market.

“Right from the start I want everyone to understand these business premises are not in any way, shape or form believed to be involved in anything illegal or anything to do specifically with the illicit tobacco market,” he said.

“Police believe they were chosen specifically because they’d been hired by people who had involvement in the illicit tobacco market to have events on those premises.

“We’re treating these incidents as linked and that’s purely due to persons who have engaged with those businesses to undertake events at those places.

“At this stage we are not sure whether the same offenders have committed both crimes on the two venues but it would be suffice to say there’d be at least several offenders who have undertaken this offence.”

Investigators are appealing for anyone who may have seen anyone acting suspiciously in the area or with information tocome forward.

Anyone who witnesses the incident or with dashcam footage is urged to contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000 or crimestoppersvic.com.au.

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