A BUMBLING thief was caught red-handed while allegedly trying to rob the Smythesdale Roadhouse in a daring smash-and-grab yesterday morning.
Having spent up to 30 minutes inside the building allegedly trying to steal items from the Glenelg Highway service station, a 38-year-old Brown Hill man was arrested just after 3am when Ballarat police and security arrived on scene after the alarm went off.
Police allege the thief, who had already made a number of attempts to break into the building, eventually smashed through the sliding glass doors with a sledgehammer and entered the store.
Having already caused thousands of dollars in damage, it is alleged he then smashed a security light that had been activated.
Roadhouse manager Brett Nicholls alleged the would-be thief first tried to steal the office safe, but it was too heavy. The alleged thief also tried to cut his way through the rear tin wall of the building, but could not gain access. He also tried to break through the roof after climbing on stacked-up milk crates.
Glaziers were on scene repairing the damage yesterday morning, and Mr Nicholls said he expected the damage bill to stretch into the thousands of dollars.
“The police acted very swiftly and it was good to get him at the scene,” he said.
It is not known exactly how long the man was inside, although Smythesdale Police Senior Constable Craig Grenfell said it would have been an extended period, given he was still on the scene when police units arrived from Ballarat.
The Brown Hill man was charged with burglary offences and bailed to face the Ballarat Magistrates Court next month.