Heat turned up on local firewood thieves
Posted on 27/04/2023
The arrival of cooler weather traditionally sees an increase in firewood theft, and Crime Stoppers South Australia has partnered with SA Police to encourage people with information about wood thieves to speak up – anonymously.
Crime Stoppers South Australia CEO, Mr Nigel Smart, said the trusted charity wants information from the local community about thieves who are stealing firewood and selling it for quick cash.
“Crime Stoppers provides a way for people to anonymously share information about firewood theft and other suspicious behaviour going on in the local community,” Mr Smart said.
“When someone contacts us, they don’t have to say who they are, make a statement or get involved – and cash rewards of up to $2000 are available,” he said.
While thieves are targeting most common gum varieties, redgum continues to remain a highly prized target because it can catch fire easily, produces tremendous heat and is in constant demand from buyers.
“SA Police is interested in any information about people who are trespassing on private and crown land to steal firewood, and often damaging property in the process,” Chief Inspector Lauren Leverington, Officer in Charge of Barossa Local Service Area said.
“Firewood thieves are active across the Barossa Valley and the Adelaide Hills, with examples where fencing has been cut to access a property. That brings the added danger of stock then being free to wander out onto nearby roads and puts the lives of passing motorists at risk,” she said.
Thieves typically work in the hours of darkness to minimise their chances of being detected, and often use lighting equipment, industrial sized chainsaws and hauling equipment. The stolen firewood is then sold through online marketplaces and local social media groups to unsuspecting customers looking for a trailer load of cheap wood.
“When someone buys firewood from a private seller it has often been cut down illegally from native reserves or private land. Illegal firewood theft damages the native environment that is protected for conservation and native animal habitat,” Mr Smart said.
“We encourage people to ensure the wood they purchase is sustainably and legally sourced.”
Crime Stoppers encourages anyone with information about suspected firewood theft to anonymously submit a tip online at www.crimestopperssa.com.au or by calling 1800 333 000.
If anyone spots any suspicious activity around forestry areas or private property, particularly vehicles towing trailers, call the police assistance line on 131 444.