LOCAL businesses are urged to be on high alert following a spate of burglaries throughout South Gippsland and Bass Coast in recent weeks.
In almost all instances, offenders have made a quick ‘smash and grab’ for cash only, jemmying open doors and breaking windows to gain access to buildings.
Police have confirmed that in addition to four businesses robbed in McBride Avenue, Wonthaggi last fortnight, thieves targeted the Cobra Café in San Remo in the early hours of Monday, September 21.
This incident comes just weeks after a dozen businesses were burgled in in other parts of South Gippsland, including Korumburra, Meeniyan, Mirboo North and Koonwarra.
Bass Coast Criminal Investigation Unit Detective Syd Hadley confirmed a jewellery store in Cowes was also hit on August 26, but police don’t believe all robberies are linked.
“We don’t believe the ones in San Remo and Phillip Island are connected,” he said.
“The burglaries in South Gippsland (in late July) appear to be related and are currently being investigated.
“We’re following a number of enquiries relating to these burglaries.”
Det Hadley urged business owners around South Gippsland and Bass Coast Shires to ensure cash isn’t left easily accessible when they lock up for the night.
“Businesses should be making an effort to secure cash, don’t leave floats in tills or money sitting around the place,” he warned.
Cobra Café owner-manager Trevor Portelli was forced to close for an entire day’s trade following last week’s burglary.
He said thieves snatched the till from his front counter, which contained a float of $300.
“We had to close because the front door was smashed and we couldn’t have that worked on as well as welcoming customers into the café,” he said.
“It wasn’t ideal, coming out of winter many small businesses like us would be struggling and we lost hundreds more dollars being closed.”
Interestingly, thieves appeared to totally ignore the walls full of racing memorabilia and other unique items decorating the popular café.
Mr Portelli said offenders did, however, take an antique handgun that works as a cigarette lighter.
Anyone with information regarding any of the recent burglaries is urged to contact Wonthaggi Police on 5671 4100 or Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.