A plastering contractor in Broadmeadows, Australia was recently charged with 62 counts of handling stolen goods—tools mostly. Sam Patto is accused of operating as a fence, buying stolen tools from known criminals and selling them at flea markets. This type of crime is common around the world; what’s unusual about this episode is the amount of loot that had been squirreled away. The magistrate (judge) described the cache as an Aladdin’s cave of stolen goods.
A search of Patto’s home and storage unit turned up 220 items that the police were able to identify as stolen based on their serial numbers and other identifying marks. Among the items found were cordless drills, circular saws, angle grinders, nail guns, sanders, chain saws, laser levels, jigsaws, torches, radios, tool bags and a vacuum cleaner. The owners of the 220 recovered tools say they represent only a small portion of what was taken from them. The accused’s cache contained an additional 1370 tools that could not be identified as stolen. At retail, all the tools found in Patto’s possession are estimated to be worth in excess of $500,000 Australian ($472k U.S.).
According to one of the arresting officers Patto claimed to have purchased the tools at flea market and from a friend–and that it “wasn’t his job to ask where they came from.” He said he collected tools and did not have receipts because he paid cash. Patto had no prior convictions and was released on bail pending his next court appearance.