Mt Martha bathing boxes hit by vandals

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Wilful damage: Mt Martha bathing box owners Derek and Wendy Leong count the cost as carpenter Iain Proudfoot makes repairs. Picture: Yanni

Wilful damage: Mt Martha bathing box owners Derek and Wendy Leong count the cost as carpenter Iain Proudfoot makes repairs. Picture: Yanni

GANGS of youths drinking and carousing on Mt Martha beach broke into and damaged 33 bathing boxes overnight, 21 September.

Planks and panels from the boxes were stripped off to fuel bonfires and beach chairs and furniture was stolen and later burnt or smashed.

Police said three separate gangs – from Frankston and the Mornington Peninsula – caused thousands of dollars damage in the night-long spree.

They said many box owners would be unaware of the damage until they visited or heard from neighbours.

“It coincided with the school holidays,” Detective Senior Sergeant Nick Vallas said. “We know that lots of people saw the kids sitting around the bonfires but, strangely, no one reported the matter at the time.”

The hardest hit area was South Beach, on The Esplanade. “Some boxes were just broken into while others had their furniture thrown onto the fires,” he said.

“Others were quite substantially damaged.”

Mt Martha bathing box owner-of nine-years Wendy Leong said vandal damage to the boxes was “par for the course”.

“We had been lucky to miss out so far, but the other weekend they broke the seat on the veranda and other timber work.

“They used a jemmy to force open the door and rip off cupboards on the outside. It was just wilful damage.

“We found fine glass all over the veranda which would be very dangerous for our grandchildren.”

A teenage girl’s brush, comb and purse found later were handed in to police.

Mrs Leong said a neighbour next morning saw two young couples sitting on their stolen deck chairs who said they “didn’t intend to do damage”.

“Our box sustained a $400 repair bill but others were much more,” she said.

“It’s the inconvenience of having to organise repairs and get someone down to do it that’s irritating.”

First published in the Mornington News – 6 October 2015

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