AT WIT'S END: Monto RSL Sub Branch president David Watson and club manager Hector Kilah.
AT WIT'S END: Monto RSL Sub Branch president David Watson and club manager Hector Kilah. Alex Treacy

RSL club plunged into chaos as thieves lay siege to building

THE manager of a North Burnett RSL club said they are being pushed to the wall by thieves who have targeted the business three times this year.

Most recently, intruders got away on Friday night with an unknown amount of alcohol after they used a stepladder to gain entry to a semi-covered alleyway before forcing a set of window louvres.

"I just about tore my hair out this morning,” club manager Hector Kilah said.

"We're still trying to work out just what was there.”

He said the repeated break-ins are beginning to pose an existential crisis for the club, where money is "tight”.

In late September, which the Times understands was Sunday 29, thieves entered the premises in a similar manner, smashing a poker machine to make away with its cash box, which Mr Kilah said contained around $125.

Previously, in June, thieves entered the building via unknown means and attempted to force the club's safe.

While they were unsuccessful, they stole liquor from the bar.

Mr Kilah said he believes the thieves had access to the club's keys, which was how they entered the first time without causing damage.

The broken poker machine at Monto RSL Club from which thieves stole the $125 cash box.
The broken poker machine at Monto RSL Club from which thieves stole the $125 cash box. Alex Treacy

He said it cost more than $2000 for the club to replace the locks on its doors and poker machines after the first break-in.

Members have securely boarded the windows where the thieves gained access.

"If it keeps going the way we are, it'll be such a bloody fortress we're not going to be able to get in ourselves,” Mr Kilah said.

Mr Kilah said there was a fourth break-in on the first weekend of July, but Monto police Sergeant Mick Bazzo only confirmed three incidents.

"This sort of offence is unusual for the community of Monto,” Sgt Bazzo said.

"As a community, we pride ourselves on our low crime rate and for this to happen, it certainly has upset the community.

"The RSL and the members are is devastated by these offences.

"Apart from the obvious offences committed, these actions disrespectful and insulting to our defence force personnel present and the memory of those past.

"Although the items stolen were minimal, it still cost the RSL money to replace them, not to mention the costs to repair the damage caused by these offenders,” he said.

Sgt Bazzo said police forensic officers have attended the club to take evidentiary items including fingerprints and DNA swabs.

"Police are confident that the forensic evidence will strongly assist in the investigation,” he said.

Monto police are working with the RSL to increase security.

South Burnett

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