Woman reunited with prized medal thanks to police efforts

Brendan Rees

A Princes Hill woman has spoken of her relief after being reunited with her treasured Officer of the Order of Australia (AO) Medal, which was stolen from her home in February.

The woman, who did not want to be named, said she was “very surprised” to have the medal returned to her by Victoria Police in May.

The medal, which has a gold-plated silver insignia of the Order, is a prestigious award issued by the Australian government recognising distinguished service of a high degree to Australia or humanity at large.

The 85-year-old woman’s home was broken into in February, during which her AO medal, along with her Companion of the Order of Australia (AC) Medal, were both stolen during the burglary, with the latter medal remaining missing.



She said the medals meant everything to her and expressed her heartfelt gratitude to police for their efforts in recovering one medal.


I was extremely surprised, when three months later, I got a call from the officer who let me know they had found one of the medals, so that was amazing, and it’s a tribute to the excellent police work.


Police executed a search warrant in Parkville in May, in which they found a variety of items including a homemade firearm manufactured by a 3D printer, a machine designed to manufacture fake credit cards and drivers’ licences, a stolen car, drugs, and the medal.

Other items seized included a range of weapons including knives, blades, and homemade dangerous articles, as well as 100 stolen identification cards, passports, and private documents.

Melbourne West police have been investigating a series of burglaries in the area, including the burglary in Princes Hill in February.

The warrant in Parkville resulted in four people being charged with a range of offences, including firearm possession, handle stolen goods, make false documents, theft of and from motor vehicle and drug possession.

Those charged included a 39-year-old Parkville man, a 32-year-old Parkville man, a 56-year-old from Murrumbeena, and a 33-year-old from Point Cook.

The woman, who was not home at the time of the burglary, during which the intruders also removed all CCTV cameras, said she thought both medals were “lost forever” after they were left on a bench in her study.

“I wondered what anybody could possibly do with the medals. They’re inscribed with my name; they would have no resale value.”

Melbourne West Senior Sergeant Peter Sambell said police were “extremely pleased” to be able to reunite her with her medal.

“Medals of such importance and value in the Australian community are a rare find during a search warrant – we knew immediately that this was a special occasion,” he said.

“Finding the AO medal has also reignited hope that we will be able to find her missing AC medal – we implore anyone with information of its whereabouts to come forward to police.”

Anyone with information about criminal activity is urged to contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000 or via crimestoppersvic.com.au


Caption: Melbourne West Senior Sergeant Peter Sambell reunites a woman with her Officer of the Order of Australia Medal at Princes Park. Photo: Victoria Police.

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