By Mitchell Clarke
Cruel thieves have taken advantage of the Covid-19 pandemic by breaking into a number of closed community facilities.
Pakenham’s Deep Creek Reserve, Emerald Lake Park and Mount Cannibal have all reportedly been targeted by criminals, according to Victoria Police.
While details surrounding each incident remain limited, both Victoria Police and Cardinia Shire Council have expressed disappointment at the alleged offences.
“Unfortunately over the last week heartless thieves have broken into or attempted to break into several venues that are closed temporarily,” a Victoria Police spokesperson said.
“It is disappointing to hear of reports of criminals targeting closed facilities, especially as this is a time for us all to be working together as a community,” a Cardinia Shire Council spokesperson added.
Cardinia local area commander Inspector Dearne Dummett said the incidents didn’t represent a “spate of offences” or “increased crime” but were a warning for the community to ensure premises and vehicles were locked.
“We want to remind people, that if premises are sitting unused then consider removing any valuables,” she said.
Inspector Dummett added that some of the venues targeted included community based premises such as sporting clubs.
“Property stolen were items stored by the occupants such as sporting equipment,” she said.
Cardinia Shire Council will work alongside local police and community groups to continue to monitor all council-owned facilities which are temporarily closed to the public due to coronavirus.
“Local police request that all reports of any breaches of the Covid-19 social isolation restrictions or criminal activity at vacant and vulnerable facilities be directed to the Victoria Police Assistance Line on 131 444,” the spokesperson added.
“The safety of our community and staff is our highest priority. We are following advice from the Federal and State Governments and taking additional safety and security measures to ensure we can continue to deliver core services to our community.”
A number of council facilities including Pakenham Library, My Place youth centre, Tonimbuk Hall, Cardinia Life and all outdoor pools remain closed to the public.
Anyone who notices any suspicious behaviour around empty buildings is urged to contact police.
For information about the coronavirus situation, visit www.cardinia.vic.gov.au/coronavirus.