THIEVES have robbed Laurie Whelan of precious photos of the family he lost in a tragic car accident 10 years ago.
The former Bendigo mayor’s Ford Courier dual cab ute was stolen from Flora Hill yesterday morning before being dumped and set alight on Happy Valley Road.
In the vehicle were photos Mr Whelan was to have framed this week of his late wife, Julie Macdonald, and their two daughters, Ruth, 13 and Kellie, 17 – who were killed when their car collided with a truck at Sedgwick in May 2002.
But despite the loss, Mr Whelan’s thoughts were of those affected by yesterday’s fire.
“I suppose it’s more their story in a way because they’re just recovering from the bushfire – it’s in that area that it was all burnt,’’ Mr Whelan said.
“And they’ve torched (the vehicle) and it’s burnt a small area of bush so it just shows total irresponsibility, not caring... neighbours don’t need a fire at 4am by some careless idiots.”
Mr Whelan visited Happy Valley Road to inspect his destroyed vehicle about 8am yesterday.
“I’m feeling pretty disappointed,” he said. “I was very distraught this morning.
“It’s not so much the car – I had some valuables, some family photos in there. I’d only just brought them in to get them framed...”
However, Mr Whelan stressed he was not concerned about his own loss or the inconvenience it had caused his business, The Good Loaf Sourdough Bakery & Cafe.
The ute was used as a delivery vehicle by his employees, who were yesterday using other means to deliver the cafe’s goods.
Mr Whelan has his fingers-crossed police will catch the thieves who stole the car.
“People need to be accountable for things like this,” he said.
Anyone with information should phone Bendigo police on 5448 1300 or Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.