CORRECTION*** Three charged over criminal activity in bushfire-affected areas – South Coast

Three people are now before the courts after being charged over alleged offences committed in areas of the state’s South Coast impacted by bushfires.

Officers from South Coast Police District were patrolling the Bangalee area shortly after 5pm on Sunday (5 January 2020), when they stopped and spoke to a 17-year-old male on Arwon Close.

During a subsequent search of the teen, police located a screwdriver and bandanna.

The teen was arrested and taken to Nowra Police Station where he was charged with possess housebreaking implements, and possess means disguising face with intent to commit indictable offence.

He was granted conditional bail to appear at a children’s court on Thursday 23 January 2020.

About 10.30am yesterday (Monday 6 January 2020), police were patrolling Pitt Street, North Nowra, when they observed a man acting suspiciously.

Officers stopped and spoke to the man, before conducting a search and allegedly located a knife, a jemmy bar, torches, plyers, military badges, and a debit card.

The 30-year-old man was arrested and taken to Nowra Police Station, where he was charged with possess housebreaking implements, goods in custody, possess knife in public place and outstanding warrants.

He was granted bail to appear at Nowra Local Court on Monday 13 January 2020.

About 12.30pm yesterday, officers from the Criminal Groups Squad’s Strike Force Raptor spoke to a 33-year-old man at Moruya after receiving information he was driving around the area and acting suspiciously.

He was subjected to a roadside breath test, which returned a positive result. He was arrested and taken to Moruya Police Station, where he allegedly returned a breath analysis reading of 0.257.

He was charged with high-range PCA and entering upon enclosed land without lawful excuse, which relates to an alleged trespass at a property at Wamban.

The Moruya man was granted strict conditional bail and is due to appear at Moruya Local Court on Friday 7 February 2020.

State Emergency Operations Controller (SEOCON), Deputy Commissioner Gary Worboys, said police are continuing to conduct patrols to deter opportunistic thieves.

“It’s difficult to comprehend that there are people who would try to profit or benefit at the expense of communities who have already lost so much,” Deputy Commissioner Worboys said.

“There are large numbers of police – both local and specialist officers – proactively patrolling bushfire-affected areas to prevent and target this absolutely unacceptable – and criminal – behaviour.

“I urge anyone who sees suspicious or criminal activity to contact police immediately. We will act swiftly to put these people before the courts.”

Minister for Police and Emergency Services David Elliott said anyone who takes advantage of vulnerable bushfire-affected communities should face the full force of the law.

“At a time when we’re seeing unprecedented levels of generosity pour in from every corner of NSW, it’s unthinkable that anyone would seek to exploit those who most need our support,” Mr Elliott said.

“They are the lowest of the low and the Government will continue to back our police in their efforts to keep criminals out of communities devastated by fire during these difficult times”.

Anyone with information about unsafe or unlawful behaviour in the bushfire affected region is urged to contact Crime Stoppers: 1800 333 000 or https://nsw.crimestoppers.com.au.

In the event of an emergency, contact Triple Zero (000).

Information is treated in strict confidence.

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