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Police believe a vehicle stolen from Cranbourne South may have been used to ram-raid a Pearcedale hardware store in the early hours of Friday 22 September.
Police believe a ute identified as a 2013 model Ford Ranger, graphite grey in colour, was stolen sometime between 11pm on 2 September and 5am on 3 September, during a residential burglary on Sweet Wattle Drive, Cranbourne South.
Two men are alleged to have broken into Pearcedale Hardware after ripping the front doors off the Baxter-Tooradin Road store, using a four-wheel drive, just after 2am.
The men then entered the store and allegedly stole a number of items which included whipper-snippers, blower vacs and chainsaws.
Owner of Pearcedale Hardware store Adrian Scialpi said his store was extensively damaged with damaged tipped to top $7000.
“We are really, really disappointed that the damaged that they caused in the shop. Not only what they stole, but the damage was quite extensive,” he said, adding a door frame was ripped from the rear brick wall.
“They’ve ruined doors. They’ve ruined stock fixtures. We’ll probably have to write off about $2000 worth of stock because now it’s unsaleable. And that’s on top of a couple of thousand dollars’ worth of stock they’ve actually stolen – mainly power tools and power gardening.
“The mess that they made in the store was incredible. A lot of the shelving they tipped over to break in was full of paints and varnishes and they’ve hit the deck and exploded.”
Mr Scialpi said a lot of stock was coated in varnish and would have to be thrown in the dumpster.
“We’re going to have to write it all off. It wasn’t a nice thing to get woken up with in the middle of the night.”
He said he received a call just after 2am from his security company and arrived at his store just before 2.30am, adding: “They had already gone – the damage was done.”
“I think they spent about three minutes in the shop in total. They weren’t here for long. They caused an enormous amount of damage.
“We’re on the way to getting it fixed. We managed to trade a bit today. The damaged is at the back end of the store so we can still function at the front, but we’ll work into the night just to get everything tidied up and get all the damaged stock out so at least tomorrow (Saturday 23 September) we’re ready to trade.”
Mr Scialpi said he may be “out of pocket” for some expenses but hoped his insurance company would help him. “If they cover us for the damaged stock we’re happy. That’s all we ask of them.”
He said the store was broken into almost a decade ago.
“Since then we’ve had a really, really good run. Just got a bit of a shock overnight when this happened.”
He said it was hard enough to get ahead as a small business.
“We work our guts out to make a living and these guys with absolutely no regard just do what they do.
“I know I’m not only speaking for myself but there’s literally hundreds of thousands of small businesses out there that have been exposed to this sort of criminal behaviour.
“It’s happened multiple times every day and every night. What do we do to stop it? We are starting to get really sick of it.”
Cardinia Crime Investigation Unit detectives believe the stolen Ford ute was also involved in a burglary at Kooweerup early the same morning. Investigators have been told two men in a ute drove through the front entrance of a Station Street liquor store about 3.50am.
The men tried to break into a cigarette cabinet but were unsuccessful, however they took two cash tills and a number of cigarette lighters.
The pair then fled in the vehicle, which has since been identified as a 2013 model Ford Ranger in a “graphite grey” colour with a front bull bar, snorkel and spotlights.
Police believe the vehicle may be bearing stolen plates ACD798 and have released an image in the hope someone recognises it and may be able to provide information on its whereabouts.
Both men were masked and wearing light-coloured workmen’s pants, boots, gloves, zip-up jackets and caps at the time of the incident.
One of the males had a heavy build and the other, a medium build.
Investigators have also released images of two men they believe may be able to assist with their inquiries.
Anyone with information or who may have witnessed the incident is urged to contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.
A very special girl may lead this year’s Pakenham Light the Night participants on the annual walk.
Six-year-old Kassidy Hill of Berwick and her mother Karen have been invited to lead the 6 October lantern parade at the Leukaemia Foundation fund-raiser at the Lakeside lake.
Kassidy is bravely fighting acute lymphoblastic leukaemia (ALL), the most common form of childhood leukaemia, characterised by an overproduction of immature white blood cells which crowd the bone marrow, preventing it from making normal blood cells.
Kassidy was diagnosed in late August 2016, aged five.
Her symptoms were feeling “slightly unwell”, a slight temperature, fatigue and an “extremely pale, odd pale” complexion.
“The GP initially thought it was a cold,” Ms Hill said.
But he took a precautionary blood test and later that evening the family got a call to come in.
“He said immediately that she had leukaemia. Kassidy was rushed to Monash Emergency,” Ms Hill said.
“That time was a vag fog for me and the family.”
For the past year, Kassidy has undergone monthly hospital chemotherapy sessions, fortnightly blood count checks, and takes oral chemotherapy drugs daily.
She’s also had an operation to insert a port to administer chemotherapy directly instead of using a cannula.
If all goes well, the port will remain until treatment is finished in November next year.
Her mother said this was the best case scenario, and said the expected treatment time was extended with each setback – be it an infection or illness.
To minimise this risk, there are certain activities Kassidy cannot participate in.
Unlike her school friends, she can’t swim in public swimming pools or play in indoor playgrounds – the risk of infection is too high.
But despite her challenges, her family is determined to give Kassidy as normal a life as possible.
The family is soon off to a trip to Queensland, and has plans to travel to Disneyland once Kassidy’s treatment is complete.
They are also holding out hope for Kassidy’s grandfather, who was recently diagnosed with lymphoma.
Ms Hill said her father faced a tough fight, but found courage in watching Kassidy bravely fight her battle.
She said her family’s experiences drove home the importance of fund-raisers such as Light the Night.
Ms Hill attended the lantern parade fund-raiser for blood cancers for the first time last year, just six weeks after Kassidy’s diagnosis, and found it a “beautiful, uplifting experience”.
“People think it’s a sad event, but is quite the opposite of that,” Ms Hill said.
“It’s such an uplifting celebration of community support.
“Everyone at Light the Night is happy, and it’s such a great way for the community to get together for a couple of hours and share their happiness.”
Ms Hill said the event had also given Kassidy’s friends and family a purpose.
“Lots of people wanted to do something for Kassidy when she was first diagnosed, but there wasn’t really much they could do and they felt quite helpless,” Ms Hill said.
“Participating in Light the Night has given them a way to help.”
To join Ms Hill and Kassidy at the Pakenham event, visit https://lightthenight.org.au/event/pakenham, or search for your local event at https://lightthenight.org.au.