Beach camera vandalised, again
By MARY MANN
VANDALS put beach-goers at risk this week after they cut a cable on the Coastalwatch safety camera at Ballina's Lighthouse Beach.
Lifesavers fear the vandals were local surfers who didn't want tourists to 'ride their waves'.
The culprits cut power and earth cables to the camera and pulled the phone lines down.
They also attempted to saw down the power pole with the camera attached to it.
It is the third time this year that the Coastalwatch camera has been vandalised.
Each time it costs about $10,000 to get it up and running again adding to a total of more than $30,000 spent replacing and fixing the safety camera since March.
Far North Coast Lifeguard co-ordinator Stephen Leahy said the vandalism last Saturday night could have led to a disaster, because it meant lifesavers didn't have 'that extra set of eyes' the camera provided.
"I understand surfers are protective of local beaches, but these cameras are a public safety resource," he said.
"By destroying the cameras they are putting people's lives at risk." The footage is used by surf lifesavers to monitor surf conditions, boats and swimmers, as well as their own crews when they are performing a rescue.
The camera is one of six between Duranbah in the north and Yamba in the south, and more than 70 in Australia.
It takes footage from Lighthouse Beach to South Ballina, which is then displayed live on the web.
Anyone can access the footage to check out the surf, which is why Mr Leahy believes the vandals are locals. Also, graffiti around the communications centre includes phrases like, 'No cameras'.