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Crime crackdown in bushfire-affected towns – South Coast

Sixteen people have been arrested at the weekend as police continue to crackdown on criminal activity in bushfire-affected towns.

Operation Piper was established by the South Coast Police District to focus on property theft and criminal activity, providing a high-visibility police presence and saturating fire-affected towns.

The operation, which ran from Thursday 16 January 2020 to Sunday 19 January 2020, targeted the townships of Bermagui, Cobargo, Bemboka, Bega, Tathra, Merimbula, Eden and Moruya.

Police searched 43 people and conducted 18 vehicle searches, with seven people issued move-on directions, 20 issued with traffic or court infringement notices for various offences, seven were found to be in possession of illegal drugs, and five businesses inspected.

More than 400 random breath tests and vehicle stops were conducted across the four days.

Of note:

Thursday 16 January:

Officers executed a search warrant at a home in Ulladulla and located cannabis. A 34-year-old man was charged with cultivate prohibited plant and possess prohibited drug. He is due to face Milton Local Court on 13 February 2020.

A 41-year-old man from Broadwater was found to be driving while suspended during a vehicle stop in Merimbula. He is due to face Bega Local Court on 25 February 2020.

Friday 17 January:

Three men and a woman were charged following separate vehicle stops in Bega.

- A 24-year-old man returned a positive reading to a random breath test and his licence was suspended on the spot. He will face Bega Local Court on 25 February 2020 for drive with mid-range PCA.

- A 32-year-old man was found in possession of a prohibited drug. He will face Bega Local Court on 11 February 2020.

- A 33-year-old woman was found in possession of a prohibited drug. She will face Bega Local Court on 17 March 2020.

- A 44-year-old man returned a positive reading to a random drug test and was banned from driving for 24 hours. Inquiries are continuing.

During a vehicle stop in Eden, police arrested a 31-year-old man from South Australia after he provided false details. He was found to have three outstanding arrest warrants and faced Batemans Bay Local Court on Friday (18 January 2020).

Saturday 18 January:

- A 39-year-old man returned a positive reading to a random breath test. He will face Narooma Local Court on 13 February 2020 for drive with low-range PCA.

- A 33-year-old woman will face court on 25 February 2020 for drive whilst licence cancelled.

Sunday 19 January 2020

During a vehicle stop in Moruya, a 30-year-old man was arrested and taken to Batemans Bay Police Station, where he was charged with stalk/intimidate, destroy or damage property, use carriage service to menace/harass/offend. He was refused bail to appear at Batemans Bay Local Court today (Monday 20 January 2020).

South Coast Police District Commander, Acting Superintendent Joe Thone said police will continue to target criminal activity in bushfire-affected areas.

“We are sending a message to the community that no matter how big or small the crime is, we will be out in force targeting illegal activities,” Acting Supt Thone said.

“We have seen how devastating the recent fires have been on our South Coast community, and we will continue to target and prosecute those who choose to do the wrong thing.

“Our officers are maintaining a high-visibility police presence throughout the South Coast to ensure the community can safely return to their homes and businesses without the added worry or pressure of looting and illegal activity taking place.”

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