Ardmona farmer urges others to be aware of rural burglaries

By Liz Mellino

An Ardmona resident is urging locals to remain vigilant after her property was targeted by believed-to-be thieves last week.

Kelly Hines said there had been two separate instances during the past two weeks in which an unknown vehicle had entered her farm.

While she said the first instance occurred during the day and involved a car driving down the driveway before circling the shed and driving away, the second occurrence was more sinister.

Mrs Hines said her husband woke last Wednesday night to hear a car driving along the gravel driveway just outside their house.

"At that point my husband has come out to the verandah and turned all the lights on outside ... they had parked at the shed and that's where my husband keeps a lot of his farming equipment and stuff because he can lock it up," she said.

"Because we had been a bit complacent we had left one of the roller doors up ... they'd gone in and had a look in the shed."

Mrs Hines said the unknown person then jumped back into the car, alongside a second person who had remained inside the vehicle, before driving off.

While nothing was stolen during the incident Mrs Hines said she believed that was the motive of the occupants of the vehicle.

"They must pick their nights; it was raining, windy and hard to see ... my husband said they looked like professionals, like they knew what they were doing," she said.

Mrs Hines said they reported the incident to the police who informed her it was common for offenders to scout a property before going back later to steal any valuable items.

Shepparton police Detective Acting Sergeant Cherrie McCaig said while there had not been a recent spike in rural burglaries she said they were a regular occurrence throughout the police service area.

"In saying that, we have had a number of thefts of motor vehicles at rural properties and even thefts within an open shed where machinery and vehicles are kept," she said.

Sgt McCaig said offenders were usually looking for anything of value including diesel, fuel, power tools, fishing gear, motorbikes or trailers.

She encouraged residents to ensure their property was secure at all times, keys were not left in vehicles and lighting and CCTV cameras were installed for extra security.

Mrs Hines said the incidents had been a huge wake-up call for her and her husband, and urged other farmers to speak with their neighbours about what could happen and what could be done to prevent it.

"Don't be too complacent, because we've just moved out here and you sort of have that mentality if you're out here in the middle of nowhere," she said.

"It's peaceful, nice and chilled out, but at night-time you just don't know who is lurking around."