Looters strip highway houses
AN estimated $100,000 worth of goods have been stolen from houses about to be reclaimed along the Woolgoolga to Sapphire upgrade highway route.
That might not sound like a big deal given the homes were about to be razed anyway, but for the demolition company who tendered for the job, the lost assets are disastrous.
Police are now investigating the brazen thefts, which have gone ahead under the noses of neighbours.
Nearby residents have reported seeing “well organised” gangs and partying teenagers ransacking, looting and destroying the homes.
One neighbour said the ruckus increased in July about the time the RTA sent out letters advising the houses were due to be demolished.
“We have seen the houses being stripped by anyone and everyone. Once people saw the places were empty, they were just taking everything,” one neighbour said.
“One of them came in broad daylight to take the French bi-fold wooden doors, so if that isn’t brazen, I don’t know what is.”
Another neighbour was threatened by thieves after he confronted them.
“They’ve been looting the houses for months and if they leave it any longer they won’t have to pull them down, they will fall down from looting,” he said.
He said people didn’t realise the local demolition companies were the ones to miss out, as they had included the cost of on-selling the items as part of their quote.
In many cases, the looters have not just taken kitchen sink, but the entire kitchen.
Neighbours have reported seeing people, using several cars with trailers, systematically stripping the homes and taking everything from whole sheds to garage roller doors, aerials, walk-in wardrobes, light and electrical fittings, windows, doors, banisters, fireplaces, copper pipes out of the walls, ceiling fans, bathroom fittings and even flowers from the garden bed.
In one instance, one crew reportedly worked for three days in broad daylight pulling the supporting beams out of a roof.
Once stripped bare, the homes in semi-rural areas have become prime real estate for partying teenagers.
Their celebrations have included smashing windows and walls including some that are suspected to be made from asbestos.
An RTA spokesperson confirmed a number of houses due to be demolished as part of the Sapphire to Woolgoolga upgrade had been broken into.