Locals patrol their own community to deter looters as town rebuilds after floods

Susanna Freymark

They have been through so much. Woodburn residents are still making sense of the flood that destroyed their town and homes.

They are rebuilding and getting back on their feet. It is tough and it is slow.

When Woodburn resident Melanie Connell heard that looters were taking what little people had left, she decided to do something about it.

I’d been told about people having their tools, or camping gas cookers stolen, Melanie said.

“One farmer had people steal parts of his truck.

“Some elderly people are living in vans on their property and they’re scared.”

Melanie’s home was flooded on March 1 and she has connected with Love Thy Neighbour to help others impacted by the flood.

So, while she is linking people together to find fridges and other items needed, she and group of residents are patrolling the empty streets of Woodburn to deter thieves.

Melanie wanted residents to know that if they see torches shining into empty backyards, it is the community group looking out for them.

“This is a community ‘patrol’ taking place to deter any persons and try to protect everyone’s property by reporting and suspicious behaviour immediately to police and driving or walking away,” Melanie said.

“We are not trying to stop any offences occurring in front of us. We will report to police and move on.”

Anyone interested in having permanent security patrols can send a message to Melanie on her Facebook page.

“It will include two to three random patrols to houses who want them.”

Melanie said she wants to “shine that light to stop this darkness”.

If the group can be a deterrent, that is a help.

“We’re in the process of getting a security company to do patrols,” Melanie said.

“And a lot of people have put their hands up to get a Neighbourhood Watch happening.”

Anyone who wanted to support the security patrols can donate fuel vouchers for patrols.

Melanie Connell
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