Burglary fears spark vigilance

Warren HatelyAugusta Margaret River Times

Augusta police have recovered a white “American-style” pick-up truck they suspected was used in a series of rural trespasses this week, with stolen property found on board.

Residents were urged to be on the lookout for suspicious behaviour, with two men and a younger woman thought to be involved in the incidents.

Augusta officers took charge of the investigation on Tuesday after initial inquiries by Margaret River police, who have custody of the recovered vehicle.

Sergeant Luke Fowler urged any residents who encountered the unknown vehicle to lodge reports after the utility was allegedly used to ram gates on a farmstead in Courtenay, near Alexandra Bridge, in the early hours of Monday. “We think they’re either targeting rural burglaries — so our concerns immediately jump to firearms — or theft of fuel,” he said.

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“That’s where some of the alleged offences have been noted. But we don’t think all of the affected have come forward yet.”

In another incident in Scott River East earlier the same day or the previous night, a parked tractor had fuel stolen and spotlights removed.

Police asked anyone with CCTV footage to come forward and help identify the persons of interest.

Sgt Fowler believed the public should be on the watch for the two men and the woman.

A 33-year-old Margaret River woman was charged for driving under the influence on Monday morning, caught with a blood-alcohol reading of 0.295.

Sgt Fowler said a member of the public walked into the Margaret River police station to point out the vehicle parked illegally across the road, outside the Margaret River Volunteer Fire and Rescue station on Willmott Avenue.

Officers stopped the driver as she left and found alcohol in the car.

Sgt Fowler said it was another, even more significant arrest in a string of drink-driving incidents which frustrated local police.

As the Times reported last week, local and visiting motorists were increasingly scoring dates with the magistrate and having vehicles confiscated due to lax drink driving offences.

“The general community don’t stand for drink driving and when its noted, its reported to us and we act on it,” Sgt Fowler said.

The woman was hit with an on-the-spot disqualification.

Police have reminded residents about the 60km/h speed limit on John Archibald Drive as patrols continue to net motorists speeding along the stretch between Margaret River and the bypass.

Sergeant Luke Fowler said police were now a constant presence on the road after three serious crashes and noise complaints from adjoining neighbours.

Most of the fines issued were for speeding more than 20km/h above the posted limit.

Sgt Fowler said patrols were “starting to have some effect”, but residents were urged to pay attention on John Archibald, with speed the cause of all previous incidents.

Lawbreakers were also warned this week that Margaret River police officers were now equipped with body cameras allowing them to tender video evidence in any altercations.

The bodycams were rolled out earlier this year across regional police districts.

Station officer-in-charge Luke Fowler said police were incorporating technology and using social media as part of their increased toolkit to keep the community safe.

A 37-year-old Margaret River man has lost his prized Mitsubishi Magna after performing burnouts on Airport Road, where he was caught on CCTV outside the Water Corporation facility. The man was charged with reckless driving for the stunts performed on August 13.

The man’s vehicle was seized after the driver admitted to the offence when confronted with the footage.

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