Oaks Beach lifeguard Kate Newton is disappointed that thieves keep targeting essential equipment.
Oaks Beach lifeguard Kate Newton is disappointed that thieves keep targeting essential equipment. RON BURGIN

Lives at risk as thieves steal

SWIMMERS’ lives are being put at risk as thieves steal vital first-aid and alarm equipment from the region’s beaches.

As a shark approached a Burnett Heads beach on Sunday, Surf Life Saving Queensland (SLSQ) lifeguards had no alarm to warn people to get out of the water, after thieves stole two shark alarms in seven days.

SLSQ Wide Bay Capricon regional manager Craig Holden said although the lifeguards were able to use their whistles to warn swimmers at Oaks Beach, a megaphone was a far more effective tool.

“It’s affecting the safety of the swimmers, which is concerning,” he said.

In what has become a problem beach for the lifeguards, three break-ins have occurred at the Oaks Beach shed, while the megaphones were taken from the tower.

During an Easter holiday break-in, a first aid kit was stolen, along with hazard signage, and the thieves ransacked the shed.

In the September holidays, another break-in was attempted without any luck, but the lifeguard was unable to access the shed for a few hours because of the damage to the door.

During the latest attempt, crooks messed up the shed again, stealing items from the first-aid kit and the oxygen resuscitation unit.

Mr Holden said the lifeguards and lifesavers could not leave any gear unattended in the tower on the beach.

“It’s annoying, costly and there was damage done to the door of the shed,” he said.

The container holding lifesaving gear at Mon Repos was also broken into earlier in the year and a first-aid box stolen.

Volunteers noticed the missing item and it was replaced before service at the beach started earlier this month.

Bundaberg Regional Council had to foot the bill for the damage done to the Oaks Beach shed door and chief executive officer Peter Byrne said the “significant” cost was filtered down to ratepayers.

“It’s an absolutely mindless exercise,” he said.

“It’s a community facility that provides a vital service to Oaks Beach.”

Swimmers using the beach yesterday labelled the stealing and break-ins “pathetic”.

Burnett Heads resident Dave McLaren said it was pointless stealing first-aid equipment.

“What are they going to use it for?” he said.

“It’s endangering everybody. Anybody who has an accident in the water isn’t able to be treated.”

Bundaberg Police Sergeant Michael McLellan said this type of stealing put people’s lives at risk.

Anyone who has seen suspicious behaviour near the sheds can telephone Bundaberg Police Station on 4153 9111 or Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.

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