Wood thieves hit
DERWENT Valley properties are being hit hard by an onslaught of relentless wood thieves and vandals — and residents say they have had enough.
Up to 70 tonnes of wood and more than $10,000 worth of fencing materials have been stolen from one Gretna property alone.
Oliver Sonners, manager of the sheep farming property at Gretna, said around 50 trees were illegally felled last week.
“I saw three cars going out, there was a red ute with a trailer taking about three tonnes with him and there were three young blokes with a white fourwheel drive,” Mr Sonners said.
Senior Constable Peter Gibson from the Bushy Park police station attended the property on Saturday and spoke to two people who were on the land.
New Norfolk Sergeant Chris Hey said the details of the people were obtained and inquiries were continuing into the matter as well as other recent reports of illegal tree felling.
“New Norfolk police have recently met with other stakeholders ... in the Hamilton and Bushy Park areas, to discuss and strategise on how to be more proactive and vigilant in preventing this type of behaviour,” he said.
The two people involved in the incident last week were not local residents and further inquiries are continuing with the view of prosecutions.
Hamilton woman Barbara Higgins said her partner had 15 tonnes of wood stolen from his property last year.
She said she was aware of at least five other farmers who have been targeted.
“He is 79 this year so he can’t go and cut another 15 tonne of wood ... so when people steal it from you it’s just disheartening,” she said.
Mrs Higgins said people came and went from the area with loads of wood every weekend.
“The people they sell it to don’t know where that wood has come from or if the driver has a license to get the wood,” he said.
Mr Sonners said the thieves had also stolen and vandalised huge amounts of fencing and gates.
“I’ve had probably two to three kilometres of fence stolen,” he said.
“I put up a new fence and that was all gone the next day.”
Mr Sonners said the thefts and damages were affecting his business.
He met with Norske Skog representatives on Saturday who discussed installing security cameras in the area.