Detectives from South Australia Police’s organised crime investigation branch confirmed six men and one woman from South Australia and Queensland were arrested between June 27 and July 24 in connection to the theft and/or sale of the Holden components following the launch of an investigation codenamed Operation Echidna in January.
An audit conducted by GM Holden found that 140 high-performance 6.0- and 6.2-litre V8 engines and 175 transmissions were missing, believed stolen, with an estimated value of approximately $2 million. To date, the investigation has identified and/or recovered 30 engines and 103 transmissions, all of which are known to have come directly from Holden’s Elizabeth facility.
Police believe the thefts took place over a two-year period and that one of the people arrested was a Holden employee at Elizabeth during that time.
The drivetrain components were sold in a number of different ways, including directly via word-of-mouth, via email and even on public auction website eBay.
Officer in charge of the organised crime investigation branch Detective Superintendent Peter Harvey said further arrests have not been ruled out and enquiries continue into identifying and recovering the stolen engines and transmissions.
“The investigators have received large amounts of useful information from the public, employees at GM Holden, and people involved in the motorsport industry,” Harvey said.
“I encourage anyone with a 6.0-litre or 6.2-litre Holden V8 engine or a transmission, who bought them in circumstances which might raise some suspicions about their origin, or anyone with information regarding the thefts to contact Crime Stoppers.”
Holden carried out its own internal investigation following the thefts and says it has identified certain areas in which it can further tighten inventory controls and security measures to prevent similar events in the future.
The seven people arrested face theft and money laundering charges, and have been bailed to appear in the Elizabeth Magistrates Court on August 22.