By Jessica Howard
Heartless thieves have stolen around $150,000 worth of tools and equipment from the Coimadai Fire Station, rendering it inoperable for hours during peak fire season.
The station is believed to have been broken into sometime between midnight and 6am on Friday February 17.
A Nissan Patrol Ultralight 4WD* was stolen alongside a collection of chainsaws, a defibrillator, a mobile phone and a high-pressure washer.
Coimadai Fire Brigade volunteer, Mel Peterson said the callous theft was “a kick in the face”.
“We are all passionate volunteers and it is insulting to think that someone would steal something that is used to ensure the safety of this community,” she said.
“[The vehicle] is a vital piece of equipment that we use to get to areas that are inaccessible to the tankers. It is pivotal to access farms and other areas with difficult terrain”.
The Coimadai Fire Station was on stand-by for multiple hours while Bacchus Marsh Police and Moorabool CIU conducted their investigation.
Ms Peterson said that if an incident had occurred, the theft of the vehicle may have resulted in a loss of property or a loss of life.
“It is a huge inconvenience to the whole community,” she said.
Offenders are believed to have forced their way into the station through a side door.
At around 6am, the station’s neighbours noticed the left hand-side roller-door had been left half open, after being manually opened from the inside.
The door of the Unit’s training facility was also damaged in an attempt to enter the building, which was refurbished in 2015.
Ms Peterson said the refurbishment was volunteer and community funded.
“This comes straight out of our pocket,” she said.
*The Nissan Patrol Ultralight 4WD vehicle was found in Melton at around 1pm last Friday. The other stolen items are still missing.
Anyone with information is urged to call Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.