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10 November, 2021

Car theft leaves local devastated

PASSIONATE Mareeba thespian Andrea Dati will be forced to hand over years of her savings after a group of juveniles allegedly stole and destroyed her car during theatre practice last week.

By Rhys Thomas

Mareeba’s Andrea Dati is being forced to fork out a considerable portion of her savings to buy a new car after juveniles stole and destroyed her car last week.

Andrea attended the Mareeba Theatre Group Constance Street hall last Tuesday for her last dress rehearsal before opening night that Friday.

As she considers theatre as her second home, Andrea had no qualms about leaving her handbag out the back with the rest of the cast’s belongings. 

After wrapping up rehearsal at around 9.30pm, Andrea went to retrieve her handbag and head home only to find it was missing which meant her phone, wallet and car keys were gone.

“I went to go get my handbag after we finished rehearsing and I couldn’t find it,” she said.

“As soon as I walked out, I noticed it was missing and I went ‘bag, car keys, car’. Straight away, I went outside and sure enough my car was missing. 

“I’m so lucky to have a wonderful theatre family – one was immediately on the phone with police link and another with the banks getting my cards cancelled.” 

It wasn’t until around two hours later after reporting her car missing that it was discovered at 11.45pm on Marks Lane near Atherton involved in a “serious traffic accident”. 

The car was “extensively damaged” with the battery being dislodged from the car during the collision.

“I have been a part of the Mareeba Theatre Group for 15 years and this is the first major incident like this we have had,” Andrea said.

“I felt comfortable at theatre – it is my second home, it’s like someone breaking into your home stealing your car, it’s the same thing.

“I am frustrated and angry that I must now use the money I have been saving to buy a another car, at no fault of my own.”

Andrea’s handbag was found the next day near the PCYC Hall behind the theatre hall by a council parks and gardens worker. 

Andrea was relieved to find her bank and credit cards were still there however the culprits stole her phone, cash and a watch. 

Officer-in-charge of the Mareeba Police Station, Derek Garner, said while the culprits had fled the scene, follow-up inquires resulted in the arrest of several juvenile offenders – some being repeat offenders. 

“One of the offenders that was arrested had recently been released from custody for similar offences,” he said. 

“The young people involved are regularly offending however I daresay this was opportunistic in nature. 

“If you’re in a situation like last Tuesday night and you’re at theatre practice, you’ve got to store handbags and keys somewhere safe. They should be secure regardless limiting the opportunity.

“I know that 99 times out of 100 you wouldn’t have to worry about that… however they did go in because the opportunity was there, they did steal a handbag and keys and they did steal a car. It’s something that you always have to be aware of unfortunately.” 

Andrea has expressed the utmost gratitude and thankfulness to the timely, professional and caring response of the Mareeba police who were updating her every step of the way.

Two officers even showed up to Andrea’s house personally to deliver her the bad news that her car had been found, trashed.

“The Mareeba police were brilliant – I had officers ringing me with updates every step of the way up until Wednesday morning with their final update,” she said. 

“They even came and knocked on my door just to give me an update and check if I was okay. 

“My friends and family were absolutely amazing through the whole ordeal as they supported and checked up on me. 

“It’s amazing how a tragedy caused by some of the worst of people can bring out the best in others.”

Andrea will now be forking out a considerable portion of her savings that she has accumulated over the past five years to secure a new car.

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