2 April 2019

Government installing CCTV at rural 'choke points' to combat car fires

| Lachlan Roberts
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Solar-powered CCTV cameras will be located on Tharwa Drive (shown above), Cotter Road and Point Hut Road. Photo: Supplied by ACT Government

The ACT Government plans to install CCTV cameras at major roads heading to the rural areas of the ACT to combat the number of stolen cars dumped and torched in Canberra’s remote bushland.

An ACT Government spokesperson said three solar-powered cameras will be located on Tharwa Drive in Conder, the Cotter Road in Weston Creek and Point Hut Road in Gordon, to “help police investigate and bring those responsible for vehicle fires, bushfires and other rural crimes to justice”.

November’s Pierce’s Creek bushfire, which burned more than 200 hectares of bushland seven kilometres from Kambah across several days, was started by a car fire deep in the bush. The driver of the blue Toyota Hilux Workmate with NSW registration failed to stop when police attempted to pull it over two hours prior to the fire starting.

ACT Parks and Conservation rangers have voiced their concern about the growing number of stolen cars being dumped and set alight in the bush, causing the ACT Government to look for a solution to the problem.

ACT Minister for Police and Emergency Services Mick Gentleman has been in discussions with ACT Policing, the Justice and Community Safety Directorate and the ESA to look into what types of technology can be used to combat the staggering spate of car fires over the summer.

The ACT Government discussed initiatives like CCTV network expansion and increased funding for police which would help prevent and investigate car thefts and arson more efficiently.

Screen grab of the footage from the CCTV camera near Lanyon Homestead.

An ESA spokesperson said the agency had been working collaboratively with other directorates and ACT Policing to strengthen operational arrangements to identify and quickly remove abandoned vehicles that pose fire risks.

“The ACT Government has legislation in place to enable staff and authorities to remove abandoned vehicles that pose a safety risk, such as from bushfire,” the spokesperson said.

“This work is in conjunction with the installation of the public safety CCTV cameras which are part of the government’s strategy to deter, help police investigate and bring those responsible for vehicle fires, bushfires and other rural crimes to justice.”

ACT Policing said the number of car fires had steadily decreased since December and reminded the public to keep their car keys in a safe and secure location.

“Proactive, intelligence-based policing has led to a marked reduction in the instances of car fires in Canberra and the surrounding region,” an ACT Policing spokesperson said.

“ACT Policing will continue to target individuals where intelligence and community information points to their involvement in these arson incidents.

“Broadly speaking, the best way for people to protect against car theft is to keep their car keys in a secure location away from the car or garage. Often with instances with car theft, the car has been illegally accessed using the vehicle’s keys.”

The ACT community are encouraged to report any unattended fires to 000 and abandoned vehicles to Access Canberra on 13 22 81.

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