THE township of Korumburra has been shocked by an incident in the early hours of Monday morning this week when brazen, allegedly drug-crazed thieves hit three commercial premises in the town.
They escaped with an undisclosed amount of cash, tools and valuables from two of the businesses but were thwarted by security arrangements in their attempts to enter a third premises.
One galling aspect was the loss of proceeds from a Korumburra Rotary Club Art Show raffle, estimated to be around the $500 mark.
Detective Senior Constable Syd Hadley of the Bass Coast Criminal Investigation Unit, who is leading the police investigation, said one particular part of the incident has concerned police greatly.
“The incident has taken place at 12.30am on Monday morning (January 8),” he said (referring to the hotel burglary).
“A representative from the hotel has responded to a call from their security firm, after an alarm has gone off, and he’s turned up to find an offender at the scene.
“He’s chased him off the premises and the man has decamped in a white tray utility, driven by a second offender.”
Det S/C Hadley would not comment on reports that there had been an altercation between the offender and the representative of the hotel, simply saying it was a very worrying incident.
He also said he couldn’t comment on claims that the perpetrators were affected by drugs.
He did acknowledge, however, that the incident was being regarded as a serious aggravated burglary (persons on premises) in any case because there was a family staying in the hotel, upstairs, at the time.
“I’ve always had a problem with these insurance firms who are happy to take the business operators’ money but when the alarm goes off, it’s the people from the business who have to go up there and check out what’s wrong.
“The idea of someone going up to their business, potentially on their own in the early hours of the morning, and being hit over the head concerns me. That’s not what’s happened here but it is a real concern to me and always has been.”
Det S/C Hadley also acknowledged there had been a spate of burglaries in the area recently.
“The community has had issues with crooks coming down from Melbourne and taking advantage of the quieter locations.
“We’ve had the burglary at the Poowong school (29 laptops stolen, December 17, 2017) and Korumburra Video (cash/cigarettes January 2) in recent times. Whether they are related I couldn’t say at this point.”
Mr Hadley said police would be reviewing CCTV footage and would be interested in seeing other video surveillance, plus anything local community members might have seen.
Call Bass Coast CIU on 5671 4100 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 1800 333 000.
A spokesperson for the hotel said the incident had been disturbing.
They confirmed that someone had responded to the alarm and chased the offender out of the hotel and that he’d run off down the street to a waiting car.
The spokesperson said the man had been behind the bar when the hotel’s security person arrived.
They said he had already removed some undisclosed items from the hotel, reportedly including cash which he escaped with, but was disturbed in the process of taking other items.
“All I can say is that it has been reported to police that the offender was a Caucasian male.”
The spokesperson said the person involved in the incident was shocked but also “pissed off” that the hotel, and other premises in the town, had been targeted by the thieves.
Mark Homes, the owner of Korumburra Car Co, said the burglars had also hit the historic Boston’s garage, used as an office for Korumburra Car Co and also a motor vehicle repairer.
“As far as I can tell, they’ve started here, gone up to try to get into the hardware and then gone to the pub where they’ve set off the alarm,” Mr Holmes said.
“[Name] has come up to investigate and he’s finished up having an altercation with the guy out in the street.
“He’s got his beanie hat off him but he’s got away.
“[Name] said he was ‘high as a kite’ and there was no point trying to hold him.
“His mate was down here by Cosson’s in a white ute waiting for him.
“They’ve got good CCTV footage of him so I’d say there’s a good chance they’ll catch them,” Mr Holmes said.
Police have however queried this chain of events claiming the burglary at Bostons and the attempted burglary at the hardware store may have happened earlier in the weekend.
Mr Holmes said the staff at Korumburra Car Co and the associated vehicle and tractor repairs business were shocked and devastated by the theft and the mess left by perpetrators.
“They’ve jemmied their way through the front door and emptied one of the outside wheelie bins of all its rubbish in here (on the showroom floor) and used the bin to take the stuff out.
“They’ve gone through absolutely every drawer in the place looking for money and valuables and turned everything out on the ground.”
The place on Monday morning was a mess with files, paperwork and equipment strewn all over the floor in the various offices of the motor repair firm in Korumburra’s Radovick Street.
Police asked the firm not to touch anything until they’d completed their investigations on the scene.
“The worst thing is they’ve got into the secure office area and stolen all of the mechanic’s expensive scanning and diagnostic tools.
“They’ve also taken all of the apprentices own tools which would be worth $3000 or more.
“Lots of the other tools have also been taken,” he said.
“They’ve taken my camera and they’ve even taken the Rotary club’s cash box we were collecting the proceeds from the art auction in. I don’t know, maybe $400 to $500.
“It’s a complete mess. The first time we’ve ever had a break-in,” said Mr Holmes.
“They were apparently wearing gloves, so they won’t have left many finger prints.
“They didn’t touch any of the car keys that we laid out here. Or this set of ‘Burra2’ number plates.
“They’ve obviously been disturbed, probably with [name] taking the other bloke on because they’ve left a bin full of other equipment in here. But they did get away with quite a lot. I hope they get them.
“I’ve called the police twice this morning. They’re probably coming across from Wonthaggi. So there’s not a lot we can do until they get here.”