THE crackdown on bushfire arson and the push to increase fire safety awareness was promoted at Bendigo’s Marketplace yesterday. CFA and Victoria Police representatives held an information booth in the busy complex to educate shoppers about fire safety and arson prevention. More than 50 per cent of bushfires are believed to be deliberately or recklessly lit and police say the public can play an important part in helping to catch bushfire arsonists.“Arson is a serious offence. We want people to be more vigilant and if they see any suspicious behaviour to call Crime Stoppers, the Bendigo police station or triple-0,” said Bendigo crime prevention officer Leading Senior Constable Margaret Fitzpatrick. “If you see someone acting suspiciously, write down their vehicle details, what type of car it is, what colour it is, the model and the description of the individual’s details, for example their height, what they’re wearing, their hair colour, if they're with anyone.”Police also encourage people to report an individual’s suspicious behaviour even if they know the person. “People who commit bushfire arson are not always strangers. It could be someone you work with, a family member, friend or colleague. Please let the police know," Leading Senior Constable Fitzpatrick said.“That person obviously might need some help and there is counselling available and also sometimes that person might need to be dealt with by police.” CFA Loddon Mallee Region Community Education team member Bill Bowery said CFA representatives stressed to shoppers the importance of being prepared for bushfire. “We’re talking to people about how they can prepare and keep their place safe and how they can motivate their neighbours to do the same thing so everybody is safe. “Prepare to leave early – have all your valuables and your overnight bag packed and ready to go so if there is a fire you won’t be distracted, you can just leave. Don’t do today what you should have done yesterday.” The information booth, which features a multimedia display, the latest bushfire planning materials and giveaways, will also be set up at Bendigo Marketplace today, tomorrow and Monday.