Two grave robbers were ordered to remove the corpse of the sister of an underworld crime figure to cause hurt but stopped short, instead stealing an expensive diamond ring from her casket.
Investigators believe an overseas crime boss ordered the bizarre crime, as police probing a violent conflict between criminal syndicates turn their attention to the crypt desecration.
The mausoleum housed the remains of Meshilin Marrogi, the sister of convicted murderer George Marrogi, who is serving a 32-year sentence.
The masked bandits broke into Preston General Cemetery in Melbourne's north in the early hours of July 30.
They then removed the woman's casket with the intention of carrying it away, Detective Inspector Graham Banks said.
"We don't have clarity around what the purpose of taking it away was. But certainly it was to, we believe, cause friction and hurt to the brother of Meshilin, George Marrogi," he told reporters on Friday.
Det Insp Banks described it as a targeted incident and a "new low" that caused disdain in the criminal world, with the men involved now at significant risk.
Investigators believed the unnamed crime boss who ordered the attack is the head of a syndicate involved in a conflict over illicit tobacco in Victoria which has been linked to more than 30 arson attacks this year.
The syndicate boss was deported from Australia to Dubai but is now thought to be operating from a third country.
"He's directing from the top of the pyramid, the people who are committing these offences are very much on the bottom, they are cannon fodder as far as he's concerned," Det Insp Banks said.
Ms Marrogi died from COVID-19 in September 2021 at the age of 30 and there was no damage to any other crypts within the mausoleum.
Police released images of the two men in the hope someone can identify them, appealing directly to underworld figures for help.
"There's more than just one family member impacted by this," Det Insp
"Parents who buried their child should not have to deal with this type of incident."
Australian Associated Press