DESTRUCTION: Tuesday night’s stolen Nissan Patrol was found in an abandon shed at Barnsley on Thursday. It’s one of 20 Patrols believed to have been taken in the past year. ANGRY owners of Nissan Patrols are demanding action to stop the spate of thefts of the four-wheel-drives in the Hunter.
More than 20 Patrols have been stolen in the past 12 months, according to members of one four-wheel-drive club, with the latest pinched on Tuesday night at West Wallsend.
It followed the theft from Speers Point of aPatrol owned by Belmont’s Greg Fairfull on Day, as theNewcastle Heraldreported on Friday. Mr Fairfull’s burnt-out car was found two days later.
Shaun Wallace, president of Mud Pigz4x4 – a club of400 members – says 4WD owners were “fed-up” at the thefts which have been “going on for almost 12 months”.
Stolen 4WD owners ask: When will it end? BEFORE: Stolen from Speers Point boat ramp on Day.
AFTER: Found near Black Hill.
BEFORE: A Patrol stolen in November.
AFTER: The Patrol when found.
BEFORE: A Nissan Patrol stolen in August, 2017.
AFTER: The Patrol when found at Minmi.
BEFORE: A patrol stolen from Wallsend on Tuesday night.
AFTER: The Patrol when found on Thursday on an abandoned property in Barnsley.
TweetFacebook Stolen Nissan Patrol wrecks (Before/After shots)Mr Wallace hadhis 1988 GQ Nissan Patrol stolen from Wallsend in August last year.
Read more:Cancer patient’s 4WDand boat trailer stolen during Day fishing trip
Owners have started investigating the thefts themselves and have formed alist ofnames of those they believecould be involved.
“We followed up the names, some were dead ends and some were positive leads,” Mr Wallace said. “It’s got to the point now though, where the four-wheel-drive community’s said: ‘well bugger it, if the police aren’t going to do anything’…”
Other owners agree.
“We’re all over it, this is the fourth attempt they’ve made at trying to take my car,” said the owner of Tuesday’s stolen patrol, who wished to remain anonymous.
His vehicle was found burntout, much like most of the other stolen Patrols, on Thursday night in Barnsley.
“Nothing really puts a price on my car, that thing was my pride and joy,” he said. “I don’t think money could bring it back. Iworked hard to be able to do the things I wanted to do to it, and these blokes steal it for an hour’s play in the bush.”
Police formed Strike Force Luchetti in September last year in an attempt to combat the high rates of vehicle theft, particularly in the Central Hunter and Lake Macquarie.
The two areas were listed as the worst in NSWfor vehicle-theft crime in 2016-17.
Luchetti’s investigations were being led by Central Hunter detectives and as of December, police said they had charged 27 people as part of the operation and recovered 21 stolen vehicles.
In early December, an 18-year-old Cessnock man was charged with motor vehicle theft after a number of Nissan Patrol SUVs and associated parts were stolen from various parts of NSW across 2017.
Police allegedthe man was part of asyndicate in the Hunter targeting 4WD vehicles and Nissan Patrols in particular.
They said he was connected to a Nissan Patrol theft from Cardiff South on July 6 and a second Patrol theft at Wingham on the mid-north coast two weeks later.
Police also charged the man in relation to the alleged possession of Nissan Patrol parts stolen from Kellyville in Sydney on October 14, and the theft of Nissan Patrol parts from Fassifern on October 28.