The community of Gembrook has been left shocked and disheartened after thieves struck Gembrook IGA twice in as many nights, sledgehammering their way into the store before making away with thousands of dollars worth of cigarettes on both occasions.
Gembrook IGA Owner-Manager Andrew Spark was awoken by a notification that the stores alarm had sound around 4am on Thursday 5 March.
Mr Spark commended police for being at the store within 10 minutes, but said that the thieves were gone before he and the police had the chance to arrive.
Mr Spark had the door of the shopfront repaired after the first hit, only to be struck again by the thieves again in the early hours of Saturday morning. CCTV footage posted to Gembrook IGA’s Facebook page shows the thieves loading their arms full of cigarettes before bringing in a bin from outside, which Mr Spark said they then proceeded to fill with cigarettes.
“I’m feeling pretty disappointed and a bit disheartened. It’s a big inconvenience, yeah you have insurance but they have excess. I’m probably $4,000 to $5,000 out of pocket and that’s significant for small business as that’s the difference between making money this month and losing it,” Mr Spark said.
“Business is tough enough as it is at the moment, to have someone break in and steal from you makes it all the more harder.
Mr Spark said the wider community of Gembrook is taken aback by the theft, saying “you think it’s a nice little safe community and here’s these people coming in with sledge hammers.”
“They’re fairly shocked that it’s happened in our community, particularly in such a brazen way,” Mr Spark said.
The thugs can’t steal Gembrook’s community spirit, however, with locals offering their support and even helping Mr Spark to make new fortification for the shop front.
“Since the second attack we’ve fortified the front of the store with iron gates to prevent them getting in,” he said.
“The support of the community has been tremendous – the kind words they’ve had to say and some of them helped me make the fortification, that made me feel a real part of the community and shows that they’re there for us in our time of need as well,“ he said.
Gembrook IGA have asked for anyone with information to contact Emerald police.
Emerald police have been contacted for comment.