Tamworth Regional Council counts cost of destructive vandalism spree

DISAPPOINTED: Tamworth mayor Col Murray and Oxley local area command acting superintendent Jeff Budd inspect the damage. Photo: Jacob McArthur
DISAPPOINTED: Tamworth mayor Col Murray and Oxley local area command acting superintendent Jeff Budd inspect the damage. Photo: Jacob McArthur

ARMED with bolt-cutters and clad in balaclavas, vandals have gone on a destructive spree across Tamworth, causing damage at the Tamworth Regional Playground, the Oxley Lookout and the Marsupial Park.

Tamworth Regional Council (TRC) crews have taped off the sky-walk at the Kable Ave playground with significant damage caused to the structure.

Oxley police Acting Superintendent Jeff Budd put the call out to the offenders to hand themselves in.

“It’s a really stupid act,” he said.

“Some of these actions could result in a kid being seriously injured, perhaps even fatally injured.

“My advice to these young fellows is come and hand yourself into the police now.

“We will come to your house, we will come to where you work, wherever it has to be, we will embarrass you.”

PRETTY ORDINARY: Tamworth Regional Council crews inspect the skywalk at Tamworth Regional Playground where vandals caused significant damage overnight. Photo: Jacob McArthur

PRETTY ORDINARY: Tamworth Regional Council crews inspect the skywalk at Tamworth Regional Playground where vandals caused significant damage overnight. Photo: Jacob McArthur

The acting Superintendent said council’s investment in CCTV surveillance around the park would prove to be crucial.

“It shows the three young offenders, dumb, dumber and dumbest, using tools to cut wires on the play equipment here,” he said.

Oxley police released images of a white, dual-cab Toyota Hilux with green p-plates captured by CCTV cameras.

Tamworth mayor Col Murray said it was “devastating” to see a “much-loved community asset” damaged.

“It’s owned by the community, paid for by the community and here we are again, spending tens of thousands of community money repairing this damage,” Cr Murray said.

“It’s unconscionable to think members of the community would cause this destruction.”

A shipping container used to store council tools at the playground was also broken into.

The group of youths also broke the lock on the gate to the Oxley Lookout where a bin was set alight and broke a lock at the Marsupial Park.

Chairman of council’s crime prevention working group, Russell Webb, labelled the vandals “grubs” and has called on the community to come forward with any information.

“We’ll do everything we can, but council and the police rely on information from the community that can help,” he said.

The damage was discovered by council staff early on Tuesday morning.

“We’ve had three guys come through with bolt-cutters and they’ve cut the webbing up to the sky walk and they’ve actually cut sections out of the webbing that encases the sky walk,” TRC parks and horticulture CBD crew supervisor Adam Jones told The Leader.

“They’ve broken into our shipping container [at the playground], as well as breaking the lock on the gate at the Oxley Lookout where they’ve set fire to a bin, plus cut the main gate lock at the Marsupial Park.”

The damage to the sky-walk has caused the most concern for council.

Mr Jones said the structure’s original engineers will need to be brought back to investigate what repairs can be done.

“We’ll have to get the engineers back that designed it and fitted it to seer how it affects it structurally,” he said.

“It could be a possibility that the whole lot could be replaced because they’ve actually tried to cut the stays as well.

“It could be quite a long time out and quite expense to fix.”

Mr Jones said CCTV from the playground showed the vandals were wearing balaclavas.

“We’re hopeful we can get something worthwhile to catch them,” Mr Jones said.

“This sort of stuff is just not on.

“They obviously knew the cameras were here.

“It’s such a great playground and great asset for the Tamworth community has come up with and for them to jeopardise it one night is pretty ordinary.”