Stolen ute ‘a safety message’

A JINDERA man has taken to the town’s streets in a bid to warn others to up their home security after his ute was stolen and torched.

Craig Dougherty awoke yesterday morning to discover his maroon Toyota Hilux ute — which he’d spent 2½ years working on — had been stolen from where it was parked on the nature strip outside his Creek Street home.

He immediately reported it to police, who called about 7.15am to inform him they’d found the vehicle — dumped and burnt to a crisp in Molkentin Road.

“I was devastated,” he said.

“It’s bad enough that someone would steal your car but then it’s further insult by burning it.”

The ute was Mr Dougherty’s pet project; after spending thousands upon thousands doing it up, he said it was almost complete as his recreational vehicle.

“It was meant to be a bit of an escape, so me and my girlfriend could go away camping and on holidays, that kind of thing,” he said.

Not content to stand idly by, Mr Dougherty loaded the shell of the car on the back of a trailer and drove into Jindera’s main street, with the spray-painted message “Who stole this?” emblazoned on the side.

He’s hoping by putting it out there, someone might know something that could help find the culprit.

Mr Dougherty also wants to warn others not to be complacent about home security, despite living in a quiet town.

He said that though his utility was left locked, he knew it wasn’t unusual for others to leave their cars or homes unlocked.

“This isn’t a vendetta, I’m just trying to get people to be more aware and hopefully catch the bugger while I’m at it,” he said.

“Just because it’s a small town, it doesn’t mean it doesn’t happen.”

Mr Dougherty said several townspeople yesterday had told him they had had their cars or homes broken into recently also, sparking questions of a possible crime wave in the town.

“I think a lot of things go unreported ... but if people are quiet then no one knows what’s going on,” he said.

It is believed the ute was stolen about 5am, dumped and torched.

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