6 brazen Clarence Valley thefts that left us in shock
THE grandstand stolen from the Grafton Netball Association courts isn't the first time brazen thefts have left Clarence Valley residents shocked.
Here are 6 of the most brazen Clarence Valley thefts in recent times.
1. Budgie smugglers
CLARENCE Valley bird owners were put on notice in September last year after a spate of thefts, and one brutal budgie killing incident.
Budgie breeder Barbara Anderson padlocked her birds' cages and aviaries after at least two of her friends had birds stolen from yards and homes in Grafton.
2. Truck 'jacked' for $6000 tyres
WHILE washing a truck in the backyard of their Grafton home, the phone rang and Sharron and Paul Daniel were delivered some shocking news.
Another of their trucks, parked at the Grafton Truck and Trailer Repairs compound in South Grafton, was left on jacks after having both its front wheels removed.
The theft occurred in February 2011.
Mrs Daniel, owner of Daniel and Son Road Transport, described the brazen theft of the wheels, worth more than $6000, which occurred between 4pm on Saturday and Sunday morning, as "unbelievable".
"We work really, really hard and long hours to earn a living," she said.
"It's just pathetic that it could be someone from the same industry and they would know how hard it is."
3. Stolen excavator rips ATM from wall
WHEN Shane Hamilton heard a loud rumble outside his Iluka bakery as he was working bread dough just before 4am, he didn't think he would step outside and watch a stolen excavator tear the ATM from the front wall of the nearby BCU credit union and load it onto a stolen truck.
But during the next five minutes, as he relayed the details to his wife Annette who was on the phone to police, that's exactly what unfolded.
Mr Hamilton said the thunderous noise, flashing light and beeping warning signal of the excavator driving along Charles Street initially attracted his attention, but he thought it may have been the machine's owner moving it, or council starting roadworks early.
"The excavator stopped straight in front of the credit union and the bucket started moving out and taking swipes at the wall and the next thing I knew the ATM was out," he said.
"They used a chain attached to the excavator's bucket and loaded the ATM straight into the back of a white tip truck and drove off ... it was all over within five minutes.
"It was surreal ... it's something you would see on movies."
In his 10 years as a baker in Iluka, Mr Hamilton said he had never seen anything like it.
The theft took place in November 2010.
4. Yamba esky thefts
A SPATE of thefts at a holiday park in Yamba in February 2014 left a bad taste in the mouths of park visitors and one fed-up manager.
Yamba Waters Holiday Park manager John Warner said thefts had been reported by visitors at the park every weekend since before Christmas.
He said the majority of items stolen over the three-month period were alcoholic beverages from visitors' eskies, prompting police to refer to the thefts as "esky shopping".
"Some weekends they have taken full eskies, other times they've just opened them up and taken stuff out of them," Mr Warner said.
Fishing rods have also been stolen from boats at the park.
"We're actually telling people when they check in now just to make sure they don't leave their eskies or belongings out at night," he said. "It's just a hassle for tourists that come, it's an inconvenience."
5. Christmas grinches steal Fitz Puff Puff
A GRAFTON family's Christmas celebations were put mon hold when a ride-on lawnmower converted into a Christmas themed train was stolen.
Thieves also took a model Mack truck.
The detectives who solved the crime and recovered the stolen items were nicknamed "The Detectives Who Saved Christmas".
6. Light fingers at cemetery
CLARENCE Valley resident John Melenhorst was shattered when thieves stole a solar light stolen from his late wife's grave.
Mr Melenhorst regularly visits the Clarence Lawn Cemetery at Armidale Rd, and likened evening visits to a "sea of light" thanks to a number of solar lights placed on loved ones' plots.
"There were lots of solar lights lit up in the evenings, it made the place look very spiritual, it was very peaceful," he said.
During a visit last November John's son Francis decided to contribute to the atmosphere and placed a $60 solar light on his late mother's grave.
But when Mr Melenhorst and his son visited the cemetery mid-December 2014, they found their solar light was among a number that had gone missing.