FRUSTRATED business owners are blaming a lenient justice system on a spree of break-ins across Echuca.
Three businesses were targeted early Sunday, but good security prevented the thieves from stealing any valuables.
It follows a string of burglaries last weekend, with business owners believing tougher punishments are needed to deter criminals.
The crime spree started at Rose’s Vet Practice in Pakenham St about 3am.
Thieves smashed a window to gain entry, but fled after an alarm was activated.
‘‘It was pretty scary sitting here at 4am waiting for the police to arrive,’’ owner Rose Parsons said.
‘‘I’m just grateful they didn’t take anything or hurt any of the animals.’’
De Roozes Jewellers was next on the hit-list; broken into at 4.40am.
However, the offender didn’t expect to be faced with a silent alarm, video surveillance, prison-type doors and a safe.
‘‘Some would say a bit of overkill, but the laugh is on the thief as he couldn’t get to anything valuable,’’ owner Mick De Rooze said.
He said he spent the next day fixing the weak spot where the thief got in.
‘‘Nowadays who wouldn’t have good security with all the break-ins around Echuca?’’ he said.
‘‘I recommend everyone get a good security system in place as it’s the only thing you can do to protect yourself as our courts aren’t.’’
Ray White Echuca director Stephen Morgan agreed.
‘‘If punishments were harsher, thieves would think twice,’’ he said.
‘‘Police are doing their best and these criminals are getting away with it.’’
The Anstruther St real estate agency was broken into at 5.15am with what appears to be a hammer and crowbar.
‘‘The alarm system went off and scared them away,’’ Mr Morgan said.
‘‘We have pretty good security which made it hard for them to get in.
‘‘Once they got in and the alarm went off, they had a quick look in the office and bolted.’’
Mr Morgan said it was disappointing to hear about so many burglaries.
‘‘It’s not only frustrating for business owners in terms of the cost, but for the police and all the hard work they do comes undone by a lenient justice system,’’ he said.
‘‘They go to court and get 40 to 50 hours community work.’’
Ms Parsons said although she believed courts were too lenient in general, jail was not always the best option for burglars and thieves.
‘‘I think many of these people are on drugs and that needs to be addressed too,’’ she said.
‘‘Do I think courts are too lenient? Heck yes. But I don’t know what a better system would be.’’
Echuca Criminal Investigation Unit is appealing for information into the break-ins, with Detective Senior Constable Jason Hare saying he believed there was one offender.
‘‘We’re out for other avenues of inquiry,’’ he said.
‘‘We have examined the scenes and finger-printed.’’
He was unsure if the break-ins were connected to last weekend’s burglaries at The Telstra Shop in Hare St, Sizzarz hair salon in Nish St and Campaspe Shire depot in Finlay Rd, Tongala.
‘‘We’re hoping to have some results in the next week or two,’’ he said.
Det. Snr Constable Hare praised the businesses for having decent security.
‘‘Good security makes our job easier and is a deterrent for thieves,’’ he said.
Anyone with information about the break-ins are urged to contact police on 54831500 or Crime Stoppers on 1800333000.