In an incident of bitter irony, one person came home after fighting fires to find that fire-fighting equipment had been stolen.
Two people were killed in last week’s fire north of Adelaide, with 82,000 hectares of mostly cropping land destroyed along with close to 500 houses and other buildings.
Pinery bushfire recovery co-ordinator Vince Monterola called the looting “abysmal” and said police had increased patrols across the 265km fire perimeter.
“These folk have lost so much and they face so much hardship in the recovery that lies ahead of them, and to go and take from people who have already lost most things, what an abysmal thing for people to do,” he told ABC radio on Wednesday.
Wasleys resident Martin Dunford – who lost his home and was left only with the cars in his shed – said he had to fend off a looter at the weekend.
“I walked down with my torch, leaving my car idle up the road, I saw he was holding a torch, and I yelled, what are you doing,” he told FIVEaa radio.
“Out here we have police coming around all the time but there are hundreds of little tracks, that’s the biggest problem.”
SA Police today detailed items that had been stolen since last week’s bushfire.
Chief Inspector Alex Zimmermann, the officer in charge of the Barossa Local Service Area, said six thefts had been reported so far.
He said stealing from people who had already suffered so much was “totally unacceptable”.
“Police are as appalled as the community by this behaviour, and I urge anyone with any information about these matters to call Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000,” he said.
Thefts reported include:
- A mini bike stolen from a rear shed at Wasleys.
- Jewellery stolen from a house at Freeling.
- Tools and a generator stolen from a shipping container at Wasleys.
- A fire fighting pump, mig welder and generator stolen from a shed at Roseworthy.
- Cash stolen from a property at Shea Oak Log.
- A full fuel tank from an auger unit stolen from a paddock at Koonunga.
Three incidents involved property owners who had been evacuated, while the Roseworthy and Shea Oak Log thefts targeted people who were out fighting fires.
“Police have increased patrols in the area, however it is important that the local community assist by providing their eyes and ears.
“Any suspicious behaviour – or vehicles – should be reported to police immediately by calling 131 444.”
Police has also asked the public to note vehicle registrations or descriptions of people that they may have concerns about.
– with AAP
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