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Truck owner shaken after brakes sabotaged

LIVES PUT AT RISK: Ballina tow truck operator Martin Bailey is stunned by the actions of those who sabotaged the brakes of a tow truck left parked outside his business premises. He says their actions could have caused a fatality if the brakes had failed out on the road.
LIVES PUT AT RISK: Ballina tow truck operator Martin Bailey is stunned by the actions of those who sabotaged the brakes of a tow truck left parked outside his business premises. He says their actions could have caused a fatality if the brakes had failed out on the road. Jay Cronan

SOMEONE knew what they were doing when they fiddled with the airbrakes on the tow truck parked outside Martin Bailey's office in Ballina.

The vandalism was discovered by Mr Bailey, an East Coast Group Tow Trucks director, on Tuesday afternoon when he returned from a holiday in Tasmania. He climbed into the truck to start it up and the back wheels locked. It could have been fatal if Mr Bailey had driven out on to the road.

“I could have killed someone,” he said.

The vandal tied a chain to a tree and hooked the chain to the hose of the truck's air brakes.

“They had to have known what they were doing. You'd have to be a truck driver,” he said.

Mr Bailey has been in business for 10 years and has never had anything like this happen before. He only just moved his business to Ballina and fences and surveillance cameras are yet to be installed.

“Someone doesn't like competition,” Mr Bailey said.

Inspector Mick Heap, of Lismore police, said it was 'absolutely disgraceful that someone would stoop so low to put other people's lives at risk'.

This type of planned vandalism is different to the rampage of damage last weekend to car yards in Lismore, including Pollard's Car Sales, City Toyota, Lismore Nissan and Trevan Ford.

A spokesman for the four car yards, who asked not to be named, said there was 'a two kilometre radius of damage'.

He was phoned by people who drove by and saw the damage to his cars.

“It's happening more often and the dealers are prepared to offer a reward for information,” he told The Northern Star.

He wants to see more police patrols on the streets of Lismore to prevent further damage.

“We have a number of cars working every shift and we do our best,” Inspector Heap said.

“The police are only as good as our witnesses.”

A police spokesman said damage reports in Lismore had decreased, with an average of 54 incidents a month this year, compared with 71 incidents in the same period last year.

Anyone who has information about car yard damage can call the Lismore police station on 6626 0599 or Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.



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