Lukas' first birthday plans ruined after thieves steal and torch his mum's car with all his presents inside

Cruel theft: Sarah Dziunka with her son Lukas, whose birthday gifts were incinerated in the stolen car. (Inset) her stolen Mazda. Main picture: Lachlan Bence.

Cruel theft: Sarah Dziunka with her son Lukas, whose birthday gifts were incinerated in the stolen car. (Inset) her stolen Mazda. Main picture: Lachlan Bence.

Ballarat’s ubiquitous car thieves have conspired to destroy the first birthday plans of mum Sarah Dziunka for her toddler Lukas, stealing and torching her car with all his presents still in it.

The 2001 model Mazda 626 was stolen sometime late last Saturday night or early Sunday morning from Sarah’s house in Mount Pleasant. She was told by police on Monday that a car fire in Ballarat North was unfortunately her vehicle.

Sarah had just purchased presents for her son Lukas’s birthday next weekend and had not had time to remove them from the car boot.

A new pram and car seat were also in the car, which was entirely destroyed after being set alight by the joy-riding thieves.

Sarah says the car had been seen racing through the streets of Ballarat a couple of times on Sunday, but police had been unable to catch it.

“I’d just put a full tank of petrol into it, so they had plenty of fuel to get around on,” says Sarah.

Sarah has recently moved to Ballarat from Geelong for a new job at a childcare centre in Eureka. Her car was essential for getting to her work, and its loss has been a major inconvenience, requiring a loan of her partner’s vehicle or relying on friends for lifts.

“I do varying shifts, so it’s really been very hard to work out how to get across town. Sometimes (my partner) Jeff’s parents have to drive me; I’m trying to work out Ballarat’s buses,” Sarah says.

“The car was insured, but with excess and paying out the insurance policy it will cost me around $1800, and the car will not fetch anymore than maybe $500 to $1000 at the most.

“I’m still paying off the pram, so that’s a bit frustrating as well. I’m really left with nothing out of it at all.”

Sarah says her anger is compounded by the fact she had only recently paid the registration on the car and had made sure it was locked before she took her son inside the house. She says the loss of the new pram is doubly inconveniencing.

The car was so comprehensively destroyed by the arson that Ballarat police have told her there is little chance of discovering who committed the theft.

“There’s no evidence; no-one picked it up on camera,” says Sarah.

Anyone wishing to assist Sarah replace her car can make a donation at  her mycause website: https://www.mycause.com.au/page/182950/help-get-sarah-a-car