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Someone stole nearly $40,000 of expensive Australian wool bound for China by swapping it with a cheap substitute

Photo: Jonathan Wood/Getty Images

Victorian police are investigating theft of 18 bales of high equality wool, worth around $2000 each, from a Melbourne warehous.

Thieves substituted cheaper quality fleece, worth around a 10th of the price, for the high value wool in the original bales. The swap is believed to have happened since May 2017 after the original fleece was inspected and tested and was only discovered by buyers in China after the wool had been exported.

Detective inspector Jamie Templeton said the thefts were “extremely serious”.

“This is not only due to the total value of the wool stolen but also the potential damage it poses to the Australian export industry,” he said.

“These thefts are incredibly damaging to the livelihood and reputations of the brokers who export this product.”

Police believe there may be more victims caught up in the tampering scandal and have encouraged them to come forward and report it.

Jo Hall, CEO of the peak woolgrower group WoolProducers said Australian exports to China were worth $2.4 billion to last year, which took nearly 80% of the total clip.

“China is clearly our dominant trade partner and we simply cannot afford to erode any trust or confidence with them, which is why any case of wool substitution is so concerning,” she said.

“Australian woolgrowers produce the best quality Merino wool in the world but incidents like these are damaging to the integrity of our industry.”

Anyone with information should contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 00 or online at www.crimestoppersvic.com.au.

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