By Melissa Sheil
PICKERING Brook has been the site of two unusual heists this month, with a local primary school and the heritage park targeted in robberies.
Sometime between Wednesday June 30 and Saturday July 3, the Pickering Brook Heritage Park was broken into, with thieves stealing several valuable historical artefacts.
The intruders cut a hole in the security fencing and gained access to the heritage building by using a wrecking bar to force the lock away from the door.
Items reported as missing include an antique gramophone, a metal hat box, old irons, kerosene lamps, a collection of books and several lever arch files containing documents and photos.
President Brook Heritage Group president Beverley Giumelli said the robbery was very upsetting for the volunteers that run the park.
“It is sad and disappointing for the community of Pickering Brook and for all the volunteers who have worked so hard over the years to preserve the history of the district and to create a community atmosphere of goodwill and commitment to heritage,” she said.
“Although the Heritage Group has insurance on the contents, it is difficult to put a price on the items as they were donated to the us by people who understood their importance, making their heritage value difficult to estimate.”
Ms Giumelli suspects the theft was premeditated.
“Unfortunately, the Heritage Park is not equipped with cameras and security alarm and the police forensic team have confirmed that the intruders were wearing gloves,” she said.
“[Breaking in with a wrecking bar] would have involved considerable strength as these doors were built to confine maximum security prisoners during World War II.
“This gives us some indication that this was a premeditated theft by persons with some knowledge of the premises.”
The heritage park stands on the site of now-demolished Carilla Hall with the artefacts housed inside the solitary confinement building obtained from the old Bartons Mill Prison.
On June 17, a plastic greenhouse that had been installed by students in an after school gardening club at Pickering Brook Primary School only the day before was reported missing.
The greenhouse was located next to the shed and garden beds, and was planted with fresh seedlings the students planned to care for.
“A lot of time, work and effort goes into this project by volunteers and students, all for the children and it’s so disappointing that this has happened,” said a member of the primary school P&C.
Anyone with information on the thefts can contact Crimestoppers on 1800 333 000.