Thieves take cut from meatworks

A WEARY Leitch Pastoral Group manager yesterday described the frustration of having to start 24-hour surveillance at Killarney Abattoir after losing $31,000 worth of gear in two thefts since the meatworks shutdown.

Group operations manager Rob Doro said round-the-clock security started last night after an estimated $15,000 worth of equipment was stolen from the maintenance workshop this week.

It is the second time Leitch Pastoral Group have had gear stolen since they announced an extended shutdown of their Killarney and Pittsworth processing plants on February 12.

The first reported theft came the weekend following the announcement when $16,000 worth of gear – including a $10,000 quick spray unit mounted on a trailer – was stolen from a Cullendore property owned by the group.

“We don’t know whether it was disgruntled creditors, frustrated employees or opportunistic people taking advantage of the situation,” Mr Doro said.

“It is frustrating and we don’t condone these thefts, but we are aware there are a lot of depressed and very stressed people in our community at the moment.

“The longer the shutdown goes on the harder it will get.”

He said Leitch Pastoral Group had yesterday taken action to protect their property, employing a private security firm for 24-hour surveillance at both processing plants.

“I am not aware of any incidents at Pittsworth, but we are taking precautions and employing full-time security,” Mr Doro said.

“We did have a night watchman at Killarney, but due to circumstances he had to take two nights leave and the break-in happened on the second night he was away.”

Killarney Police Sergeant Trevor Gordon said the thieves used bolt cutters to cut through chain and access the abattoir’s maintenance workshop at the rear of the processing plant.

“They stole a full-size MIG welder along with other hand tools and equipment,” Sgt Gordon said.

“To steal a welder that size you would need either a forklift or several people to lift it onto a ute or trailer.

“It could be mobile criminals taking advantage of a well-publicised shutdown at the plant, or it could be someone very unhappy with the current abattoir situation.”

Mr Doro said Leitch Pastoral Group had not had anyone living at their Cullendore property when the first incident occurred a fortnight ago.

“We believe it happened over the weekend of February 13 and 14,” he said.

“Some particularly large items were stolen including a quick spray unit on a trailer, which would have needed to have been hooked up to a vehicle and towed away.

“A generator and chainsaws were also stolen.”

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