Burglars hit sporting clubs

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A WAVE of night-time burglaries at small sporting and leisure clubs across the Mornington Peninsula has members on high alert.

Detective Senior Sergeant Peter Drake, of Mornington Peninsula CIU, said more than a dozen robberies had occurred at club houses at Rosebud, Dromana, Balnarring, Mt Martha, Merricks, Crib Point, Mornington, Flinders, Red Hill and Hastings.

“They may be connected but we are not certain at this stage,” he said.

“They are a warning that club officers should check their security and make sure windows and doors are locked, and that CCTV is installed where possible.”

Flinders Cricket Club was hit three times in September, with thieves forcing a window and accessing the bar area where they cut a small padlock and stole $200 from a till, as well as taking a coffee machine, TV set and boxes of cricket balls from a locked cabinet – a total haul of $1200.

In one raid they attempted to jemmy a window causing extensive damage to the frame as well as a roller door at the Stokes St premises.

Member David Hunt said that after the first robbery, a member quipped that thieves might come back again and pinch the TV – and they did!”

He said the club had approached the shire to have an alarm installed, but had so far been unsuccessful. “If they helped us put in an alarm that could alert our mobile phones we wouldn’t need to do anything [in the event of a robbery] other than drive over and watch until police arrived.

“Or even if the police drove around at night it would be a deterrent.”

Flinders Golf Club reportedly was burgled around the same time but nothing was stolen.

Thieves stole two saddles and a chainsaw valued at $3600 from Truemans Golf Driving Range, Fingal, overnight Monday 9 August. A man with a torch was seen at the property. He drove off in a small white sedan.

A key-safe at Mt Martha Tennis Club was broken into and a small safe with $30 stolen, after clubroom cupboards were searched, Thursday 22 September.

Music equipment including two Pioneer DJ turntables, amplifiers and microphones valued at more than $3000 were stolen from the Red Hill Football Club, 14-16 September, following a previous raid in August when $2000 in liquor was taken. Thieves ransacked the clubrooms after wrenching open double doors to enter the building.

Vice president Harry Byrt said the club was a “soft target” for thieves. “Because we are in an isolated position, even if the alarm did go off it would take 20 minutes for the police to get here,” he said.

“We need CCTV cameras to catch people’s faces or number plates.”

St Andrews Beach Golf Club was broken into and power tools valued at $600 stolen, overnight Sunday 2 October. Thieves used bolt cutters to cut padlocks on a garden shed. CCTV footage shows two men and a woman with a torch on the premises at 3am.

“We are upping patrols on these areas to help catch these offenders,” Detective Drake said.

Burglars are not only targeting sporting clubs: A cigarette vending machine valued at $6000 was stolen from the Kings Creek Hotel, Frankston-Flinders Rd, Hastings, overnight 27 September.

Detective Drake said the thieves broke in through a smokers’ area window and wheeled the machine, containing an unknown quantity of cigarettes, out to a dark-coloured utility in the car park.

CCTV shows one wearing an orange fluoro jacket and olive pants; the other a blue hoodie and jeans.

Anyone with information should call Crime Stoppers 1800 333 000.

First published in the Mornington News – 11 October 2016

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