Firebugs in the firing line

Firebugs in the firing line

9 December 2008

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Australia — The Yarra Valley will be subject to increased police surveillance aimed at catching fire bugs. Police will patrol high-risk bushfire areas in the valley and in the Dandenong Ranges.

The Mounted Branch, the police airwing, undercover detectives from the Yarra Ranges Crime Investigation Unit, and information from the Country Fire Authority and Department of Sustainability and Environment will all be used to clamp down on firebugs throughout the fire season as part of Operation Hussar.

Operation Hussar has been running annually for 10 years.

Coordinator Detective Sergeant Martin Fleming, of Lilydale Crime Investigation Unit, said lighting bushfires was a serious crime that had the potential to adversely affect entire communities.

He said the operation has so far successfully prevented any further deaths from deliberately lit bushfires in the Yarra Valley and Dandenong Ranges region.

“We will not tolerate any form of illegal fire lighting as bushfires have the potential to cause great harm – even death – within the local community,” he said.

Det Sgt Fleming said the Operation Hussar team would be made up of local police familiar with these areas and he urged the community to act as extra eyes and ears and report suspicious activity to police.

“We want people to call triple zero or their local police station as soon as possible if they are concerned that someone may be trying to light a fire,” he said.

“Police will be out in force, but the input of the community as evidenced by programs such as Neighbourhood Watch and Crime Stoppers is invaluable in assisting our operations.”

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