IT’S a low act, stealing someone’s work tools to buy drugs or on-sell for cash.
But that’s exactly what’s been happing in Leongatha in the past few weeks, and the problem is widespread.
According to police there’s been a spike in thefts from work utes in the Leongatha area recently, enough for them to issue a warning, and to call for the public’s help.
Police Senior Sergeant Brad Steer is also urging tradesmen to lock their tool boxes, lock their car doors and not to leave valuables such as laptops, phones and valuable power tools in plain sight.
“It’s just inviting trouble,” he told the Sentinel-Times and WinTV last week.
“As a result of a recent spike in thefts from
motor vehicles, particularly in the Leongatha area of an evening, we are really urging the public to secure their vehicles and really put their valuables out of sight to try and reduce the offenders’ opportunities of stealing from vehicles,” Senior Sergeant Steer said.
“So, we’re really urging the community to come forward and report any suspicious behaviour and if they do see some suspicious behaviour or some persons acting very suspiciously to call police immediately. Try to obtain as much information as you possibly can, registrations of vehicles, descriptions of the persons and provide that information to police.
“Unfortunately, of late it appears to be targeted at tradies’ vehicles. The offenders are stealing tools from the rear the vehicles. And generally, these vehicles are parked in the street.
“So, what we are urging the community to do is to make sure they are not leaving their vehicles, particularly with tools and items in their vehicle, on the street to make sure they try to bring them up and secure them in the garage just to lessen that opportunity for offenders who are just going past, not to take that opportunity to steal from vehicles.
“We’ve had a small spike over the last week or so. Unfortunately, it is happening at night time. We are tasking the units to try to reduce the crime particularly around the thefts from motor vehicles. They’ve got a couple of small leads but at this point in time we are still following this up.
“The majority of them have been in residential streets. It’s basically outside the victims’ houses. But really, it’s about not giving the offenders the easy opportunity to break into the vehicles.
What we are trying to do is educate people to do, particularly in country areas, is to make sure they bring their vehicles up into garages if they can do or up to the top of their driveway and to make sure they go through and lock their vehicles. Don’t leave them open and don’t leave iPads and that sort of stuff in an area where people can look through the window and see there is an easy opportunity to steal them.
“In the past week we’ve had about half-a-dozen, so it is a bit of a spike that we are concerned about and we definitely want to reduce that.
“And it’s not just Leongatha which is in the same situation. It seems to be happening across Bass Coast as well, particularly in car parks where surfers and that are going. So, we’re really just trying to educate the community to make sure they lock their vehicles and put their valuables out of sight.
“What they are doing is actually breaking into tool boxes or if the tool boxes are being left open, they are removing valuable tools from the tool boxes like power tools, electricians’ tools and similar items to that effect.
“We’re just wanting to get the message out there about people securing their vehicles and their homes and ensuring that items of value are out of sight to stop easy access for the offenders out there.”
Asked whether the high incidence of offenders stealing tools and on-selling them had anything to do with the drug trade, as has been evident in the courts in recent times, Sen Sgt Steer said it wasn’t a connection he was prepared to make with the latest spate of thefts.
“When items of value are stolen, they are usually being on-sold for a reason, but I wouldn’t want to stand here and say it’s for a particular reason or related to drugs.”
He said tradesmen were going to the trouble to get large, secure, lockable tool boxes for the back of their vehicles but for some reason, they weren’t necessarily locking them after use.
That’s got to change.
Finally, he reminded anyone who sees anything suspicious to please call triple zero immediately or if you have any information that can assist police in identifying the offender or offenders to please contact the Leongatha Police Station on 5662 2285.