Flying club’s a repeat target

Ian Goh with the container and a model P47 Thunderbolt. 161114_02 Picture: ROB CAREW

By Cam Lucadou-Wells

BURGLARS with angle grinders have repeatedly targeted a community aircraft-model flying club in Narre Warren.
The Hobbyzone Electric Model Aero Club’s shipping container on Centre and Fullard roads has had its roof whirly-bird ventilator destroyed three times and its thick door locks partially cut repeatedly in the past year.
Club president Ian Goh said the not-for-profit club was footing bills of $400 after each attack.
A $1800 ride-on lawn mower and a $495 shade cloth have been stolen during the burglaries.
Mr Goh said the 70-member club supported homelessness charities and provided its entertainment to people with disabilities, but had tired of being under attack by “thugs” and “idiots”.
“With money repeatedly spent on damage repairs, it really hampers our club’s effort to improve its facility.
“It is very demoralising for our members.”
It started first with graffiti vandals. Their tags ceased after HEMAC members started immediately painting over the vandalism within 24 hours.
Then the front door locks were attacked by burglars armed with portable angle grinders that couldn’t completely cut through.
In September, the club replaced its whirly bird with a metal plate on the roof – which will cause the container to heat up to extreme temperatures in summer.
“We rather sacrifice comfort for security,” Mr Goh said.
The community club has also installed a sim-card based alarm system to deter intruders.
“Only after one week of the steel plate installation, the roof alarm was triggered late at night.
“There was no incident as we were there promptly with a bright flashlight only to see a person jump off the roof and running away.”
In the most recent incident, a burglar had hacked off the roof’s steel plate at 8.45am on 19 October.
Mr Goh was flabbergasted that a break-in could brazenly happen in the middle of the morning.
In response, the club installed a thicker metal plate.
Mr Goh hoped that by raising community awareness, further eyes will be on the look-out for intruders at the club.
The club meets weekly on Saturdays.