A digger who had $200,000 of gold and silver stolen from his home on New Year’s Eve says he’s the fourth bullion collector in Brisbane to be burgled in the past six months.
Corporal Christopher Lunt, 31, who has served in Iraq and Afghanistan, invested all his and his partner’s life savings in coins and precious metal bars on the advice of his father.
But burglars broke into a safe and then used a wheelie bin to cart his 75kg collection from his Upper Kedron home while he and partner Krista Hochwallner were out celebrating.
An emotional Cpl Lunt told reporters on Thursday everything he had saved to buy a house, including danger money from war zones, had been taken in the “gut-wrenching” break-in between 6pm (AEST) on December 31 and 3am (AEST) the following morning.
It happened just seven days before he was to be posted to Amberley, southwest of Brisbane.
The collection – which the couple had been unable to insure – was going to be put into a safety deposit box when they moved.
“It’s surprising – in the last six months three houses in the Brisbane region have been targeted,” he told reporters.
He said he was trying to find out if there was a connection to a public online bullion collectors’ forum he used, which has about 5000 members.
The soldier with the 26th Transport Squadron said no one apart from close friends and family knew he kept the collection at home.
But he admitted he may have made mistakes, including giving his home address instead of a PO box for deliveries when he bought coins and bars through dealers, online forums and eBay.
He said he would never keep anything at home again, saying he built the collection by conscientiously avoiding frittering away his cash on cars or flash holidays when he returned from postings in war zones, investing and saving instead.
“It’s my life-savings and my partner’s savings from the last 10 years of hard work, money from two deployments overseas in Afghanistan and Iraq just instantly gone,” he said.
“It’s just gut-wrenching, absolutely gut-wrenching,” he said.
He appealed for bullion dealers and pawnbrokers to be alert for people trying to offload his collection.
Ms Hochwallner told reporters: “He is so proud of the work that he does, and he has worked so hard.
“This is everything and he put his life on the line to earn that money.”
It is believed the burglar or burglars used bleach to cover their tracks.
Detective Acting Inspector Mal Gundry told reporters there may be a connection with the other bullion burglaries in Brisbane but police were not linking them at this early stage.
“I think it is a disgrace, a good young fella that represented his country, twice put his life on the line in the Middle East, and someone has come into his home and stolen his hard-earned cash he had saved,” he said.