Ararat police urge clubs to store alcohol, cash off-site

ARARAT Crime Investigation Unit has urged sporting clubs to store alcohol and cash off-site.

The advice follows a raid on Ararat Harness Racing Club on Sunday.

Detective Acting Sergeant Guy Menhennitt said sporting clubs were the most commonly burgled businesses in the city.

“Alcohol seems to be the motivating factor,” he said.

“A lot of damage and mayhem is caused by offenders trying to get a slab of alcohol for free.”

Det Acting Sgt Menhennitt urged clubs which kept alcohol and cash off-site to place signs stating as much.

Keeping empty fridges lit overnight could also dramatically reduce the likelihood of crime.

“That way, you can see just from looking that there is no alcohol in there,” he said.

“Finally, video surveillance with smart phone connectivity is a must.

“You can get a really good system for under $200.

“If a club or business incorporated those strategies alone, the chances of them becoming a victim of crime would be almost negligible.”

Club senior vice-president Bob Collins said a small group of members spent Monday clearing the mess at the Blake Street premises.

Although the crushed alcohol cans and broken glass was gone, he would have to return to mop the blood-smeared floor, he said.

“I’ve never seen damage like that.

“You spend half your life getting everything for the club, and you lose the lot in probably 10 minutes because of some idiot.”

The volunteer-run group has had to spend $12,000 of its savings to replace two industrial fridges and repair several more.

“We’ve really got no choice but to do it. The bar is a crucial part of our fundraising,” Mr Collins said.

The club will also have to buy new stock, after alcohol and cans worth up to $5000 were kicked out of the fridges and flung on the floor.

“We haven’t even considered how much it’s going to cost to replace the doors that were damaged,” he said.

The club will install CCTV surveillance.

“We can’t keep dipping into our emergency savings because people are breaking into the building,” Mr Collins said.

“Why? That’s the big question. Why do they do it?

“At the end of the day, they only took about a slab of beer. They destroyed the majority of the stock.”

Mr Collins said the club had been the victim of crime about six times in the past 12 months.

“A toilet block was wrecked about three months ago,” he said.

“We got that fixed, which cost about $1000, but it’s been all locked up since. You can’t use it apart from during race meetings.

“But at this stage, we’ll survive.”

A race meeting scheduled for Wednesday next week will go ahead as planned, as will all subsequent events.

Mr Collins said Ararat Harness Racing Club was the oldest night-racing club in Victoria.

Det Acting Sgt Menhennitt urged any community groups or individuals interested in discussing crime prevention to call Senior Constable Eddie MacDonald at Ararat Police Station.

“He is available purely to assist people and businesses with crime prevention strategies,” he said.

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