Thieves with no sense of respect have stolen valuable tree guards from the Avenue of Honour in Navigators, damaging the oaks planted there in remembrance of the local fallen.
Eleven steel tree guards were wrenched from the ground late on Wednesday evening, destroying the hard work of the local historical society and other members of the community.
The brazen thieves left four guards behind, but the theft is estimated to have cost the community over $2000.
The avenue was established in January 2015 by the Navigators Historical Group, who received funding from the Moorabool Shire Council and raised further money through community fundraisers.
The impressive memorial includes a laser-cut steel board listing the names of the district’s fallen with a silhouette of the Western Front above Binyon’s The Ode.
The trees have been nurtured by community members through the dry lead in to this year, and group president Michael Clark, a local farmer, is visibly disappointed by the reckless damage caused by the thieves.
Mr Clark thinks the theft was committed by organised adults rather than children. The guards are fixed to wooden beams under the ground and could not be moved by two men. He said it’s possible the thieves attached ropes to their vehicles to rip the guards out.
“They’ve stopped and purposely wrenched them off the trees,” said Mr Clark.
“They’ve cut all the straps off them. It would have taken them a while; you’ll only fit three or four in the back of a ute.”
The oak trees have been bent to the ground and partially torn out. When The Courier arrived the two men were engaged in trying to restore them to an upright state and ensuring their roots were not too severely damaged.
Each guard is worth around $200.
Fellow famer Wayne Austin says neighbours heard vehicles in the area around 10.30 on Wednesday night.
Mr Austin designed the memorial board, and like Mr Clark he’s angry about the careless nature of the vandalistic stealing.
“A lot of the people who came back to help us (build this) were residents 30 or 40 years ago,” Mr Austin said.
“They came back and we raised money for it – about $5000 or $6000.
Police are urging anyone with information to contact Crimestoppers on 1800 333 000.
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