High ranking emergency service personnel have taken aim at thieves who broke in to the Conargo Rural Fire Service shed.
Labelled both ‘‘disgusting’’ and ‘‘disgraceful’’ by Deniliquin Police Inspector Jy Brown and RFS Mid-Murray Superintendent Tony Whitehorn, the latter said the theft itself paled in comparison to the threat to safety. The break-in was discovered on Wednesday.
Supt Whitehorn said the shed and fire truck were left in such a mess, firefighter response times would have been compromised had there been an emergency.
‘‘We were just lucky to discover the break-in before there was an emergency,’’ Supt Whitehorn said.
‘‘All the lockers on the appliance were emptied and left in such a state that we would not have been able to get the truck out if there had been a call.
‘‘The last time the Conargo appliances were used was to respond to the recent helicopter crash at Steam Plains. That incident ended in a fatality, which highlights how serious this is.
‘‘Any delay to our response can affect lives.
‘‘The break-in left the community at risk, and unfortunately things like this happen all too often.’’
Supt Whitehorn said the list of items taken will also impact on the Conargo brigade’s ability to respond to emergencies, until they are replaced.
The list of stolen items was still being collated at the time the Pastoral Times went to print yesterday, but Det Insp Brown said it included a GMA UHF radio.
Police also believe the brigade’s defibrillator was a target, but it was dropped and left on the shed floor.
The break-in occurred between 5pm on August 21 and 9am on August 26, and police are still investigating how entry to the shed was gained.
‘‘This is a volunteer organisation which maintains and obtains equipment through fundraising to protect their community,’’ Det Insp Brown said.
‘‘It is a disgusting act to steal vital equipment so close to the next fire season, particularly after the deadly bush fire season we experienced earlier this year.
‘‘I would urge anyone with information about this incident to contact Deniliquin Police on 5881 9299 or CrimeStoppers on 130 333 000.’’