Shepparton residents urged to help eliminate bushfire arson risk this summer

Crime Stoppers Victoria is urging Shepparton residents to help eliminate bushfire arson this summer by supporting its annual bushfire arson awareness campaign.

The campaign reminds residents of the tragic consequences of bushfire arson and urges anyone to report unsafe behavior to Crime Stoppers.

Crime Stoppers will be joined by representatives from the CFA, Victoria Police and DEWLP to launch the campaign today at Philippine House in Shepparton.

In the Shepparton area alone it is believed that 58 fires between 2014 and 2015 were deliberately lit according to official figures from Victoria Police.

However, whilst most residents would not consider themselves arsonists, the Crime Stoppers campaign puts a strong emphasis on residents to be mindful that sometimes normal-seeming activities could actually result in bushfire arson and cause catastrophic damage to residents and the community.

“Both recklessly and deliberately lit fires are considered arson by law, and carry penalties of up to fifteen years imprisonment,” said Crime Stoppers Victoria Community Manager Chris Plumridge.

“Whether it’s a campfire on a total fire ban day, or whether you’re grinding or welding and there’s a spark – reckless bushfire arson can still result in the same tragic consequences as deliberate arson.”

Record crop yields this year also increase the risk of reckless fire, with farmers responsible for ensuring they conform to guidelines on when they can and cannot operate machinery.

Shepparton Superintendent Michael Sayer echoed the call for residents to report what they know.

“Recklessly and deliberately lit fires affect the entire community, so it’s up to all of us to keep the community safe,” she said.

“As police we can’t be everywhere, so that’s why we need the community’s support in reporting what they know, so that we can stop bushfire arson before it happens.”

The confidential Crime Stoppers reporting service does not collect reporters’ personal details, and has no caller ID or website tracking. Instead, call takers look to remove this information from reports unless the caller requests to speak to police.

“We know that in rural and regional areas you may well be reporting someone known to you,” said Mr Plumridge.

“A report to Crime Stoppers is completely confidential, so you can report and help keep your community safe without fear of anyone finding out.”

If you know something about reckless or deliberate bushfire arson in your community, you can make a confidential report to Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000, or at the Crime Stoppers Victoria website at www.crimestoppersvic.com.au. If it’s an emergency situation or you see smoke or flames, call Triple Zero (000) immediately.

Crime Stoppers is a not-for-profit community organisation, helping to keep families and communities safe. We work closely with police to provide valuable information from the public to help solve crime. Any information you provide is confidential– so if you see something or you know something, say something.

-ENDS –

Crime Stoppers Bushfire Arson Media Event details:

Date 31 January 2017
Time 10.00am
Venue: Philippine House, Evergreen Way, Shepparton
Media Enquiries: Madeleine Starling
(03) 9247 5440
[email protected]
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