School left in the dark after theft
NORTHERN NSW's only totally solar-powered school,Rainbow Ridge Steiner School at Lillian Rock, has been left without power after thieves broke in and stole more than half a tonne of batteries, which were part of the school's solar system.
The break-in occurred late Thursday night or early Friday morning.
It appears the thieves waited until the final day of the school year to commit their crime.
“They were either very courteous, or hoping it would not be discovered until next year,” school board member Paul O'Reilly said.
Mr O'Reilly said the thieves had stolen the monetary equivalent of a craft or music teacher from next year's teaching budget.
The thieves used bolt cutters to cut away a metal cage to remove six 100kg, dark green, Ennerson brand batteries valued at $8000. A second set of batteries were also removed, but were left behind in a wheel barrow.
Maintenance man Laurence Forrester said a lot of effort was required to remove the batteries due to their location and weight. “The access was very difficult,” he said.
Police who attended the school said they would be unable to get fingerprints.
Now parents have been left to do their own detective work; their only clue being three sets of shoeprints left in mud at the crime scene - two size nine and one size eight.
Mr O'Reilly said it was likely the thieves were from the local community.
“We don't want to prosecute anyone, we just want our batteries back,” he said.
Mr O'Reilly said it was likely the stolen batteries would be used in a solar set-up which is not grid-interactive.
The school is appealing to anyone with information to come forward, or leave a message on their answering machine, 6689 7033.