Robbed in the night
SOUTH Gippslanders risked facing being trapped in their homes by fallen trees after burglars stole $37,000 worth of equipment in just 15 minutes from South Gippsland Shire Council’s Leongatha depot on Tuesday, February 2.
Many chainsaws were among the haul and council staff rely on these to clear roads in the event of summer storms.
Council’s operations manager Fred Huitema said the region was fortunate not to be hit by strong winds last week, in the wake of the theft.
“The 10 chainsaws and the polesaws are pretty critical equipment that we need to have to respond to storms and in this sort of weather, we can’t really be without 10 chainsaws,” he said.
The thieves also took circular saws, power tools, a concrete saw, a Makita reciprocating saw and a Stihl blower vac.
Council staff rushed to replace the stolen equipment last week and were fortunate to be spared blustering winds in the mean time.
Two men are suspected of the robbery around 1.45am. They wore dark overalls, gloves and balaclavas as they entered the rear of the council deport from Ashenden Street by cutting a cyclone fence to the yard with bolt cutters.
They are believed to have driven a vehicle into the yard and hitched a Silvan spray trailer worth $18,000 alone. They rummaged through council vehicles parked undercover and down the side of the workshop, taking tools from the vehicles.
Leading the investigation is Detective Leading Senior Constable Robin Hedin of the Bass Coast Criminal Investigation Unit.
“No cars were sighted but they left their balaclavas outside the depot and these will be forensically tested. We will wait for DNA analysis and see if we come up with anything,” he said.
“They knew what they were looking for. We imagine they would sell the tools or use them in their own tree lopping business.”
Police are viewing security camera footage of the suspects, but a spider has impacted the quality of the video taken by one camera.
Mr Huitema said, “The camera focused on a spider before the incident so the camera was out of focus and the men could not be seen.”
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