Thieves taint police ceremony

IT WAS described as a ‘despicable and callous act' on an important occasion likened to Anzac Day.

On Wednesday, after more than 70 police officers from across the Northern Rivers marched in honour of their fallen comrades, two symbolic police hats were stolen.

As a sign of respect, male and female officers' hats had been placed on the police memorial in Molesworth Street, Lismore, after an emotional service paying tribute to the 250 officers who have died in the line of duty since 1971.

Detective Acting Inspector Bernadette Ingram said this year's service was particularly sombre.

Officers had reflected on the recent death of Detective Constable William Crews, who was accidentally shot by a fellow officer during theexecution of a search warrant in Sydney.

The two police hats were left at the memorial as a mark of respect after the memorial service had finished. But they were stolen while equipment was being packed up.

Most of the crowd hadalready dispersed.

Lismore police are now on the hunt for the offenders and are seeking help from the public.

“It was a despicable act,” Detective Acting Inspector Ingram said. “The hats were in place as a memorial.

“Their theft is an affront to those police who were at the service to pay homage to fallen comrades.

“It's also a serious offence with severe ramifications should the hats fall into the wrong hands.”

Richmond LAC duty officer, Inspector Nicole Bruce, said many in the police force were shocked by the nature of the crime on such an important day.

“Police were there (at the memorial service) to commemorate our fallen comrades,” she said.

“For this to happen is disappointing. It's very callous.

“Someone would have seen the hats being stolen.

“We are urging anyone to come forward with information which could assist us in tracking down these offenders.”

Anyone with information should contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000 or Lismore police station on 6626 0599.

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