Local News

Spate of car fires in the Upper Hunter, police putting crooks on notice

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There has been a spate of car fires across the Hunter Valley Police District.

Over the weekend the Edinglassie NSW Rural Fire Service crew were called to the Muswellbrook Common on Sunday afternoon following reports of a car alight.

That fire sparked a small grassfire that was quickly extinguished.

Hunter Valley Police District Acting Superintendent Chad Gillies said there has been 42 vehicle fire incidents within the district including Cessnock in the last three months.

“It is a bit of a concern for police in the Hunter Valley Police District.”

“The vast majority of those are either abandoned vehicles or stolen vehicles and what that is telling us obviously is that our crooks are utilising vehicles, stealing them and then burning them to help avoid detection later on,” he said.

Local police are working hard to find those involved in the incidents, particularly vehicle theft.

But also whoever is responsible for setting the cars alight as well.

“It is a huge concern from an emergency management perspective, and of course right in the midst of bushfire season now from a police perspective it is a huge risk to the local community,”

“Again what I would ask is for drivers, people who may see a vehicle on fire please immediately call the fire brigade and let us deal with it with them and then we will investigate the circumstances going forward.”

Acting Superintendent Gillies said the last thing that they “want a huge bushfire emanating from one of these vehicle fires”.

“Because of the way Muswellbrook and our townships are set up, people need to be able to get around, including our thieves and that’s what seems to be the motivation.”

The incidents have been a consistent problem in the area for a while.

“We are working on a number of strategies to try and address that issue including investing a lot of time into people in our area that we consider to be higher risk offenders and putting strategies in place for that,”

“We are also working closely with the community to try and solve some of these and what we generally find is that if we arrest people who are generally responsible for a few of these the thefts will start to decrease,” he said.

Acting Superintendent Gilies said it is absolutely vital that if you see something call your local police, or Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.

If you see an unattended fire, call Triple Zero.

Image credit: Edinglassie Rural Fire Brigade Facebook page