At a time when firefighting equipment is needed the most, the town of Sarina has been left in dire straits after thieves robbed their rural fire shed on Tuesday night, taking off with their fire truck.
The West Plane Creek Road shed, which was hit by thieves just seven weeks ago, had $2000 bars installed on its windows and security cameras set up to deter crooks.
However, that didn't stop intruders, who removed a panel beneath the window and broke into the shed, taking off with a multitude of items including seven fire radios, a new chainsaw, a new Engel, a compressor, jerry cans of fuel, and $1900 headlamps.
The most thoughtless act was the theft of the distinct yellow Plane Creek Rural fire truck No. 51, which was purchased by volunteers through local fundraising efforts.
"The truck is fitted out. It's got one of those mobile phones put in...and they stripped all the cupboards looking for the key to the twin-cab," a volunteer firefighter said.
"They hit the Sunnyside station after us...it's 10km up the road.
"We go as far as Carmila. We got a phone call three weeks ago for a fire between Moranbah and Coppabella that was threatening Moranbah...(the same day) we were fighting a fire at Grasstree Beach. We go all over the place.
"We have a few good volunteers who are keen and we're all in the cane industry. We leave our jobs (for the day) and do this."
The local volunteer said while Queensland Fire and Emergency Services have now allowed the station a levy in the area to combat expenses, it's the community that has to dig in its pockets to fund the much-needed equipment.
"Our community is paying for all this stuff these mongrels are stealing," he said.
"The last two weeks have been bloody busy...and now we're on a total fire ban and we have a shed with no equipment in it.
"If they're taking the truck for a joy ride...it's probably stuffed.
"The truck was decked out with hose fittings, burners on the back, hose reels...how long will we have to wait for a new truck?"
Cane farmer and defence force veteran, Ron Gurnett, said it's only a matter of time before the community turns to vigilantism to combat the scourge of crime devastating the town.
"If the cops and the judges don't get off their asses, people are going to get hurt...it's going to turn nasty," he said.
"It's the wrong time of the year for this sort of s***. I think it's damn atrocious...we can't afford to have machinery stolen...we're in a vulnerable time.
"I was involved in (fighting a) fire behind Sarina (recently)...we spent 2.5 days there. Luckily it turned out the way it did. It was a safe fire, but it had the potential to be dangerous, and without yellow (fire fighting) trucks..."
Mr Gurnett said while most farmers around the area had their own equipment to help tackle the occasional fire, the station's equipment and truck were pivotal in efficiently eliminating blazes.
"Put (these thieves) on the fire line and see how long they last with a fire raging around them. Maybe then they'll appreciate how important (this equipment) is," he said.
"If we get storms...dry storms with lightning strikes, how do we put them out with the equipment we've got left?
"I'm in two rural fire brigades. This is not just something we can repair tomorrow.
"This is too much of a common occurrence."
Indeed, the spate of crimes across Sarina has left residents frustrated, not just with the heartless and opportunistic criminals, but also with the lack of police action.
Car thefts are also popping up around the town.
Three weeks ago, the owner of a stolen vehicle tracked his car down to Homebush Rd, allegedly pulling the slumbering thief out of the car before cable-tying him to the front.
"The car was stolen in Mackay and it ended up in Sarina. It had a tracker in the car and it was tracked to the bottle-o in Sarina," the fire shed volunteer said.
"Cops lost him and on Monday morning he was found (by the owner).
"I feel sorry (for the police). Their hands are tied but...they have to fight against it. I never ring them, I just deal with it myself."
Before the local RSL was permanently closed down, it was another target.
"They broke in...we knew the person and their accomplice and we spoke to the police. It was three weeks until they interviewed the person," Mr Gurnett said.
"It was in court three months later and the judge said the place was not being used so it was a lesser offence. It was their third offence of (breaking and entering).
"The footy club had its alcohol and mower stolen. We knew the people (who did it)...and we found the mower in a cane paddock.
"We told police but the police wouldn't bring back the mower because they said 'it's not our job'.
"Where's the community commitment? I thought they worked for us."
A Sarina police station officer, who would not be named, declined to comment on whether police had any leads on the shed theft or on the spate of local crime.
"Unfortunately we haven't been able to find the vehicle (or equipment) yet. Investigations are still ongoing," he said.
"We are not aware of any link (to the break and enter of the fire shed seven weeks ago)."