UPDATE 3.30pm: Victorian Nationals leader and Murray Plains MP Peter Walsh has again called for more police resources in northern Victoria following a string of burglaries on Tuesday.
In March, Mr Walsh tabled a petition from the Rochester community calling for more police, but he said it was “bitterly disappointing” that no additional officers had been posted to the Campaspe policing area in a recent boost to the state’s police force.
Yesterday he launched a similar petition in Kyabram.
He said local businesses had experienced an increase in insurance premiums because of the crime in the area, and some that had suffered multiple break-ins had been unable to secure any insurance cover.
“People just don’t feel safe,” he said.
Mr Walsh said he would continue to push for more police resources, sentencing that better matched community expectations, and better drug rehabilitation services.
He said the perception in the community was that much crime was fuelled by drug addiction.
UPDATE 1.40pm: A spate of burglaries in the Rochester area has affected a fourth business.
Investigators believe the crimes occurred between 3.30am and 4.30am Tuesday.
They believe two men wearing gloves and balaclavas forced entry through the front doors of the Stanhope supermarket.
Shortly afterwards, the Stanhope post office also had its front doors forced and cash was stolen.
The Girgarre post office was broken into about 4am, with money also taken.
The last burglary was at Rochester Motorcycles.
Investigators have been told two men wearing hoodies and gloves rammed a Toyota Corolla into the shopfront, before making off with goods.
UPDATE 10am: Tuesday morning’s burglary was the second time criminals had struck one business in recent weeks.
Rochester Motorcycles owner Brian Murphy said the store was also broken into about five weeks ago.
He said about $22,000 worth of goods had been taken from the store in the two incidents.
Mr Murphy believes it is likely the same people are responsible for both, with a security camera capturing footage of a late-model Toyota hatchback at the scene in both incidents.
He was alerted to Tuesday morning’s break-in by an alarm and said he missed the offenders by only minutes.
In a social media post, local police were praised for their rapid response to the crime.
EARLIER: Police are investigating three burglaries that occurred in the early hours of Tuesday morning.
Rochester Motorcyles, Stanhope post office and Girgarre post office were targeted by criminals, with at least one incident – that in Rochester – involving a ram raid.
More to come.