ON THE RAMPAGE
By SALLY GORDON
THIEVES broke into five cars, stole one and ransacked a local business in a destructive crime spree in Maclean on Monday night.
The spate of break-ins left the owners of Johnno's Quality Cars in Stanley Street devastated after burglars took off with 29 sets of car keys.
Part owner, Janice Battersby, said police had recovered all the keys by yesterday afternoon.
Ms Battersby said thieves also stole a Toyota Camry worth $17,000. The car was smashed into another car on its way out of the used car dealership.
Police located the green Camry by mid-morning yesterday dumped in a muddy ditch full of water at Townsend.
Officers said they were expecting to lay charges last night.
Police said the thieves had turned Johnno's power off at the electricity box, smashed into the office through a sliding glass door and ransacked the office.
It is alleged they then jemmied open the drawers of a filing cabinet in the office to steal the sets of keys. A teary and tired Ms Battersby said she was alerted to the break-in at 12.30am with a call from security.
"Off our showroom we have a detailing room which has a roller door; they've opened that up and stolen the car and hit another car on the way out," Ms Battersby said.
"When the security people found it the door was up."
Ms Battersby estimated the damage bill to total almost $3000.
"The worse part," she said before the keys had been recovered, "was not having the keys to the cars.
"Business is hard at the moment without this," she said.
"It's hard for small businesses to make ends meet, let alone having to spend thousands of dollars on security in a small country town, you shouldn't need to."
Four cars at the back of Clarence Valley Council's community options office were also broken into as well as a car parked outside the Maclean Hotel.