7 September 2023

Lights allegedly stolen from Merimbula Airport in 'act of reckless stupidity'

| Claire Sams
Merimbula Airport terminal.

Merimbula Airport terminal. Photography: David Rogers Photography, Supplied.

Six runway lights have allegedly been stolen from Merimbula Airport.

In a statement provided to Region, NSW Police said they were looking into the matter.

“Officers attached to South Coast Police District were told six runway lights were stolen from the airport between 9 pm Sunday (3 September) and 5:30 am Monday (4 September),” the spokesperson said.

“Investigations are continuing.”

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Bega Valley Shire Council Mayor Russell Fitzpatrick condemned the alleged theft.

“We strongly condemn the act of reckless stupidity that took place on the night,” he said.

“On this night, a person or persons illegally entered Merimbula Airport and stole six runway lights from the northern end of the runway.

“This is a clear violation of the law and demonstrates a complete disregard for community safety and airport property.”

The lights were allegedly stolen on the night of Father's Day (3 September), from the northern end of the runway.

The lights were allegedly stolen on the night of Father’s Day (3 September), from the northern end of the runway. Photo: Bega Valley Shire Council.

Cr Fitzpatrick said temporary lights had been installed.

“The stolen runway lights are essential for the safe landing of aircraft, and their theft had the potential to disrupt airport operations and endanger the lives of all those using the airport,” he said.

“The matter has been reported to the NSW Police and the Australian Government’s Department of Home Affairs, both of which have initiated investigations.”

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Cr Fitzpatrick said the authorities would respond to the alleged theft.

“The person or persons responsible should be aware that their actions carry severe consequences under the Aviation Transport Security Act 2004,” he said.

“Entering the airport airside area without permission carries a $5000 fine, and in this case, where theft and damage have occurred, additional charges may apply.

“The Bega Valley community will not tolerate acts that place people’s lives at risk,” Cr Fitzpatrick said.

“Those responsible will be held accountable to the fullest extent of the law.”

The NSW Police spokesperson said anyone with information was being urged to contact Crime Stoppers NSW by calling 1800 333 000.

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