Red Cross has been dismayed to find its emergency goods storage shed in Bairnsdale broken into with damage estimated at $1000.
“We’ve had several break-ins over the years but this one is the worst,” a tearful Jennet Young, who is the divisional operations officer for Red Cross emergency services, said.
Mrs Young, from Cann River, discovered the damage left by the intruders over the weekend, after arriving at the shed following the lifting of COVID restrictions.
“It was a real shock, we had to throw out about $1000 worth of stuff,” Mrs Young said, fighting back tears.
“What satisfaction did they get out of doing such damage?” she questioned.
Mrs Young said while the front entrance to the storage facility had been padlocked, the intruders appear to have made their way in by smashing a wall at the back of the building in Morgan Street.The shed is located on the site of the old geriatric centre, which is now derelict, and has been home to the Red Cross to store its emergency services equipment for the past 15 years.
Mrs Young said she had found evidence of drug use and believes the shed may have provided refuge for squatters.
Several mattresses in a back room appear to have been their sleeping quarters with heaters also set up in the same area.
Lolly papers and a bag of chips were found on one of the mattresses.
An internal toilet also services the shed, and while there is no running water, it’s thought those who gained access to the building would have been able to come and go relatively unnoticed with no near neighbours.
Mrs Young said a “so-called caretaker” had supposedly been keeping an eye on the shed but he has since been dismissed.
She says Red Cross intends to downsize and a small group of volunteers was packing up the remains of the shed when the Advertiser visited.
Mrs Young said she had had enough of break-ins at the Morgan Street address and it was time to move on.
“We’ve found new premises at Johnsonville, so we’re moving there,” she said.
“I want to thank everyone who has assisted us over the years in Bairnsdale, but rest assured we have not folded, we are just relocating,” Mrs Young said.
Red Cross divisional operations officer for emergency services in East Gippsland, Jennet Young, believes squatters may have been sleeping on mattresses in a back room. K56-9619