Cyclone thefts will make Prossie court
FOUR men charged with stealing several electronics items during Cyclone Debbie repairs had their first mention in the Proserpine Magistrates Court on Monday.
They may have gotten away with it too, if it wasn’t for one tech savvy person who used a phone app to track down one of the stolen items.
The four men from Brisbane, who work for a Brisbane-based construction company, did not appear in court on Monday but entered pleas of guilty to the charges in writing.
Nak Chhoeun, Sovong Rin, Roeuth Ouch and Daravit Son were working at Proserpine State School to remove asbestos in the aftermath of the cyclone.
Police prosecutor Bernhard Berger said they were at the school from April 11-14 during which time an iPad was stolen.
The owner of the iPad used the find my iPhone app and tracked it to Coral Sea Resort at Airlie Beach.
The father of the owner of the iPad then drove to the resort, discovering the room in question was hired out to a construction company.
After contacting police, a search on the room in question was conducted but no one was there. The construction company was also contacted and agreed someone working for them must have taken it.
Police eventually found the iPad on Rin’s bed. He was staying in an adjacent room and he admitted to taking it from the school.
Son and Chhoeun also admitted to taking iPads and Ouch was found to have other stolen electronics in his bag.
A further two search warrants were executed on two more bedrooms at the resort where a number of electronics items were found, including 10 pairs of headphones, three digital cameras, a hard drive, chargers, a laptop, assorted computer cables, a printer, an HDMI adapter, a pair of speakers, a USB stick and a stop watch, as well as stationery including pencils and rubbers.
Mr Berger said none of the four men were believed to speak fluent English.
Magistrate Simon Young denied their requests to have the matters transferred to Beenleigh Magistrates Court after letters were sent for them from the office of Cameron Dick, MP.
“It is not in the interest of justice and not in the public interest, that matters such as these, that involve theft and opportunistic theft by workmen at a local school that came up here to assist with cyclone recovery, be determined in a jurisdiction outside the local jurisdiction,” Mr Young said.
“There is a great deal of community interest understandably in these types of proceedings.
“(It’s) cyclone-related looting. Periods of imprisonment and actual imprisonment are not out of the question.”
The four men are facing charges of entering premises and committing an indictable offence.
“The context is very serious, the charges themselves carry a maximum of 14 years in prison,” Mr Young said.
The matters have been adjourned for sentencing on June 12.