A man has been charged in a series of home burglaries in Melbourne

An alleged serial thief will go to court accused of stealing more than half a million dollars’ worth of merchandise and nine cars from homes across Melbourne.

Police say some of the more than 20 break-ins occurred while residents were unintentionally asleep.

The man has allegedly been prowling unlocked homes in the suburbs of Northcote, Newport, Maryburnong, South Yarra, Princes Hill and Williamstown since last November, with the aim of stealing car keys and taking off with the owner’s vehicles.

The 27-year-old, who had no known fixed address, was arrested by detectives from the Metro Northwest Regional Crime Squad, Friday evening in Brunswick West.

His arrest followed the execution of a search warrant in Footscray where a 32-year-old man, an alleged colleague, was being held.

Police say that as part of their investigation, detectives seized nine cars allegedly stolen including a Volvo SUV, Range Rover, Volkswagen and Mini Cooper.

Three firearms and ammunition were also recovered, along with drugs including cannabis, cocaine, methylamphetamine, MDMA and ecstasy, a large amount of stolen identification documents, 14 laptops and 21 mobile phones.

The alleged thief has been charged with 70 offenses including aggravated robbery, carjacking, theft from motor vehicles and handling stolen goods.

He has been taken into custody pending investigation and will appear in Melbourne Magistrates Court on 13 May.

The Footscray man was charged with possession of firearms and ammunition, drug-related offenses and handling stolen goods. He will be returned to court next week.

Northwest Metro Inspector Patrick Watkinson said the arrests were a victory for the police.

“Removing an alleged serial offender from the streets is a powerful outcome and reaffirms Victoria Police’s focus on holding perpetrators to account to ensure people feel safe in their homes,” he said.

“We will continue to deploy police forcefully every night to deter and respond to this type of criminality, while our dedicated detectives will investigate and target repeat offenders.”

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