May 15, 2018
Medical trips for seriously ill local residents have been thrown into disarray after selfish young car thieves stole and trashed four vehicles from Murgon’s Graham House on Saturday night.
The four vehicles – all Ford Mondeo stationwagons – are part of Graham House’s Community Transport Service which carries local residents to medical appointments that they otherwise could not attend.
Graham House manager Linda O’Hare told southburnett.com.au some trips planned for Monday had to be cancelled.
As well, the four vehicles had been booked ahead for two months, so Graham House was now hurriedly trying to make other arrangements, including asking drivers to use their own private vehicles.
Linda said she feared three of the vehicles could be write-offs as they were so badly damaged, including the newest – a 2017 model – which had been trashed the most.
The other vehicles were two 2015 Mondeos and a 2016 model.
“They are used for patient transport, that’s what makes it so bad,” Linda said.
“They are used by people who are so sick to get to hospital.
“It’s gut-wrenching. It’s devastating for us, it’s devastating for the staff and it will have a huge impact on the community.”
She said it was also sad that most likely the thieves had come from families that at one time or another had come to Graham House for assistance in some way.
Officer-in-charge of Murgon Police, Senior Sergeant Lance Guteridge, said that as well as the four vehicles from Graham House, a Toyota Corolla had also been stolen from Wondai on Saturday night (see photos, below).
The five vehicles were driven around Murgon and Cherbourg and probably also taken out into nearby bushland.
“The offenders broke into Graham House and opened a key safe which contained the keys of the vehicles,” Snr Sgt Guteridge said.
“Police have recovered the five vehicles. At least two were extensively damaged and may never be put back on the road, and one may have been rolled.”
Snr Sgt Guteridge responded to criticism on social media which claimed the police just watched as the vehicles were being driven around local streets.
“We are not permitted to pursue vehicles once the drivers have indicated they are not going to stop for police,” he said.
There were also restrictions on where stingers (tyre spikes) can be deployed, out of concerns for public safety if a speeding vehicle suddenly goes out of control – especially if it is being steered by an inexperienced driver.
“However, police successfully deployed stingers to stop one of the stolen vehicles but the driver absconded,” Snr Sgt Guteridge said.
A police vehicle also sustained minor damage on Saturday night when one of the stolen vehicles rammed it.
“One of the vehicles was refuelling at the BP service station. Police went to investigate and their vehicle was rammed,” Snr Sgt Guteridge said.
He said police would like to acknowledge the assistance of the Murgon and Cherbourg communities.
“Police are following a number of leads. The public have provided good information in relation to the possible identity of the offenders,” Snr Sgt Guteridge said.
UPDATE: A reader spotted the Graham House vehicles on Saturday night in Fitzroy Street, Nanango, before they headed towards Kingaroy.
[Photos: Graham House]