Fugitive bushranger Malcolm Naden may be responsible for almost 20 burglaries on remote properties across Barrington Tops since Easter as he continues to survive in the region by following rivers and food sources.
The state’s most wanted man and an experienced bushman, Naden could have even remained in the area for the past three years, with confirmation that his DNA profile matched blood found at the scene of a break-in at Stewarts Brook, a small community about 50 kilometres east of Scone, in early 2008.
The Newcastle Herald revealed on Saturday that Naden, a suspected double murderer on the run from authorities since 2005, may now be armed after eight properties were targeted north-west of Gloucester since mid-July.
But property owners living on either side of Barrington Tops have since confirmed a series of other break-ins on weekenders since at least Easter.
On each occasion, the thief concentrates on non-perishable food, camping gear and batteries and keeps the target house neat and tidy when he leaves.
Melinda McCosker told the Herald yesterday that her in-laws’ property at Stewarts Brook was one of four places targeted in March.
It followed a series of break-ins at the small community in 2008 that sparked a large manhunt by local police and the homicide squad when tests confirmed that blood found at one of the thefts matched Naden’s DNA.
‘‘To say he is terrorising those in the area is just scraping at the surface of the way we feel about the fact that a murder suspect is hiding in our backyard,’’ Mrs McCosker said.
And several residents west of Gloucester, who did not want to be identified, said yesterday there had been at least a further six break-ins on the eastern side of Barrington Tops in the past two months in communities along the Cobark and Dilgrey rivers.
The latest was just last week.
‘‘He is clever and he is tough and they are going to have to get a tracker to find him,’’ one resident said.
‘‘We are not extremely frightened of him but we are definitely wary when we go out in the paddocks.
‘‘But we believe that people should be warned about what is up here – we have visitors putting themselves in danger and we have women here who spend a lot of time on their own.’’