ALBURY’S gemstone community has been rocked by a $7000 theft just days before hosting its biggest gem show.
Members of the Albury Lapidary Club — a hobby club that works with semi-precious stones — were shocked and saddened to discover it had been plundered.
Secretary Joan Barrows said the break-in, which happened between Saturday night and Monday afternoon, was particularly upsetting for the club’s juniors.
“The kids were so upset because they couldn’t believe anyone would do this to their club,” Mrs Barrows said.
“Everyone is absolutely devastated.
“One man had spent weeks getting about 30 rings ready for the show and when he went to the cupboard and saw they’d been stolen he broke down.”
Among the stolen items were about 100 rings, gas torches, silversmithing tools and drills.
Adding to members’ frustration was the fact the police failed to show up at the scene for at least six hours after they were first called about 4.15pm.
“We waited six hours and called three times and they didn’t show up,” Mrs Barrows said.
“They thought we were a footy club when we first called and when I said we were actually a gem club they must have lost interest.”
Yesterday afternoon Mrs Barrows and her husband and club president David, were still unsure if the police had checked the scene.
When informed of the situation Albury Insp John Wadsworth admitted it wasn’t good enough.
He said despite a report saying police had “acknowledged and attended”, officers could have done a much better job.
“Without speaking to the police who were dealing with the call ... there could have been a congestion of jobs,” Insp Wadsworth said.
“But in saying that I believe we could have done a lot better for the club and its members and we’ll be looking into it and rectifying the situation.”
The burglars used a jemmy bar to break into the building near the Albury Showgrounds.
The break-in comes at the worst possible time, days out from the club hosting the Victorian Gem Show.
But Mrs Barrows said they were set on delivering a successful event.
“The members all rang each other and decided we’ll put this at the back of our minds until next week.
“Regardless of what they did it won’t dampen our spirit.”