It appears that a wine bottle was used to break into cars parked at McFarlane Bridge.
It appears that a wine bottle was used to break into cars parked at McFarlane Bridge. LYNNE MOWBRAY

Looters smash way into cars

LOOTERS smashed windows of several cars chock full of valuables that were moved to high ground on the western side of McFarlane Bridge at Maclean yesterday.

Travelling around by boat with the SES through the swollen Clarence River, Daily Examiner photographer Lynne Mowbray said they came across around eight cars moved to high ground just before noon.

Ms Mowbray said the SES believed the cars had been moved by residents to protect their valuables in case their properties were inundated by floodwaters.

“You could tell there were valuables in the cars . . . windows were smashed on four of the cars and it appeared they had been looted,” she said.

On the ground near one of the cars it appeared the thieves had left a tell-tale sign of their presence.

“There was a wine bottle lying on the ground beside one of the cars,” she said.

Inspector Harley Willox of Maclean Police attended the scene yesterday morning, interviewed some of the owners, and was yesterday following leads about the thefts.

Fisherman Stephen Pateman, who owns one of the cars that had its window smashed, said he had also lost thousands of dollars of property stored in a shed that was consumed by floodwaters.

Maclean Area SES controller Ron Rushton said the predicted flood peak level of 3.2 metres this morning would not see the levee wall breached.

“The level is rising very steadily at Grafton so at this stage it will probably only reach the predicted peak of 3.2 metres ... they start evacuating at 3.3 metres,” he said.

Mr Rushton said the SES from Maclean had rescued two people who had driven into floodwaters and were trapped on top of their vehicles, but nobody had yet been swept away.

“One was out on the road between Tyndale and Tucabia on Tuesday, and yesterday we had to rescue a man from the roof of his vehicle on Yamba Road between the end of the levee at Maclean and Goddards Lane,” he said.

“We also had to go out and clear some debris from around a boat’s anchor rope that was in danger of being dragged under.”

He said the SES wanted to stress to people that they should not drive or walk through any floodwaters.

Mr Rushton said he expected to be busy today as the flood level would peak this morning.

“It hasn’t been as bad as in 2009; I think people are a bit more prepared this time,” he said.

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