THERE’S a group of angry fishermen in Port Franklin searching for two thieves. And God help the pair if the townspeople ever discover their identities.
The opportunistic duo raided 20 boats in the town on Sunday, August 12 – stealing about $3000 worth of goods and causing another $1000 in damage. The kiosk along the river was also broken into, with a number of items stolen. Detectives from Wonthaggi are on the case.
The spate of thefts is thought to have occurred between 9pm and 11pm, while sensible people were inside, safe and warm from the stormy conditions.
According to fisherman Gary Cripps, one of the boatowners whose craft was broken into, two men were seen along the boardwalk in the lead up to the thefts. He believes they were pretending to fish, but really staking out the area.
He said a security camera was activated at 10.25pm, recording two shadowy figures moving about with a bundle of stolen possessions in their arms.
“I’ve got a security gate with barbed wire around it, but there was a dingy nearby. They’ve got onto the dingy, then across onto my jetty,” he said.
“But all these boats, anyone’s got access to them. Most of the boatowners are local – from Foster, Yanakie, through to Leongatha. Anyone that didn’t have really good security, they got into it.”
Mr Cripps said that while he had had a pair of binoculars stolen, flares had been the most common item taken.
“It worries me that they’ve got the flares. I just hope they don’t do something stupid with them. They’re rocket flares and they’re pretty bloody powerful,” he said.
“If they’re used in an aggressive way it’s not good. I just hope they let it off in their house and burn themselves.”
Mr Cripps said it wasn’t the first time the town had suffered from mass thefts. It had happened “years and years ago” and again last week, with nets and other items stolen. The thieves even targeted residences. “I was robbed at home. I had six litres of fuel pinched out of my shed,” he said.
“Thefts are something that just seem to happen at this time of year. It’s bucketing rain, so everyone’s in bed by 10.30pm. That’s when these buggers have had a go.”
Mr Cripps, who has lived in Port Franklin all his life, said it was a “nice, peaceful little town”.
“I don’t really want security gates everywhere, but it’s going to happen,” he said.
Mr Cripps said more lighting was also needed along the stretch where the boats are moored.
Wonthaggi Criminal Investigation Unit is investigating the theft and is asking anyone with information to contact them on 5671 4100.