POLICE have released the image of a man they want to speak to about the burning of a tradesman’s work van in Wodonga last week.
The man is in his mid-20s to 30s, about 165 centimetres tall, with sleeve tattoos on both arms.
He is believed to have been wearing a green baseball cap at the time of the blaze.
The van was stolen from the site of the Elgin Boulevard realignment works about 5.30pm last Wednesday.
The tradesman who owned the van saw the thief drive off in his black Hyundai iLoad and, with a couple of workmates, chased him. They were unable to catch him.
The van was found dumped and burning in scrub land off Sangsters Road, giving rise to the dramatic sight of it as a “fireball” giving off black plumes of smoke.
The heat sparked a one-hectare fire near many businesses.
Up to 50 CFA firefighters took about 30 minutes to contain the fire.
Detective Sgt Graeme Simpfendorfer said police at this stage believed the theft wasn’t planned but opportunistic.
He said losing the van was tough on its owners.
“It was a work van full of tools, so it’s fairly critical for them to do their job,” he said.
“Whether or not people are insured, it’s still devastating.”
Det Sgt Simfendorfer said there had been a recent spike in stolen and torched cars on the Border but that there was no reason at this time to believe they were linked.
“Except for one or two of the incidents, we are treating them as individual,” he said.
Anyone with information should phone Wodonga police on (02) 6049 2600 or Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.