Gunnedah resident and victim of crime, Brian Riordan, has chosen to tell his story with the Gunnedah Times. This is his story. (Note, we sought a response from Gunnedah police and those comments are also included in italics)

“On March 12, 2024, I discovered my quad bike and trailer were missing from our property at Quia Road at 9am. A person who lives in the area said there was trailer on the side of the road about 100 metres from our driveway. I identified it as ours. I contacted police and made a report. I was also advised they would send police out to the scene. Expecting this would be within a couple of hours, police did not arrive until 2.30pm. In which time my granddaughter had been able assess the video surveillance that showed a white ute entering the property at 3.35am then leaving at 3.48am towing a quad bike with trailer attached. Police viewed this information and took a video. They saw where the trailer was left and shown the area where the items were taken from. Police advised me that I could retrieve the trailer as they would not be forensically testing it. When questioned why, they stated they could not use the information in court as it had been in the weather and anyone could have touched it.

Police also said there was not a lot they could do as the number plate could not be seen on the surveillance video but they seemed to have an idea of who may be involved. If police have their suspicions, why would they not test to see if their fingerprints came up?

[Gunnedah police said there was no report of a trailer being stolen]

At 5pm that afternoon, a post was placed on Facebook’s Gunnedah Notice Board and my granddaughter’s personal page about the incident with video.

Within minutes, there were comments on this post and 10 separate private messages from members of the community stating they had witnessed the bike being ridden around Gunnedah and people messaging to say who owned that specific ute, even without full identification. The same name came up five times from separate people and a number plate for the suspected ute was given.

One Facebook message stated their daughter was almost hit by a man on a red quad bike speeding out of a property on Wandobah Road.

This information gave a clear timeline of events from when the quad bike was stolen. An attempt to contact the police to advise them of this information was made but we were unable to get through on the line – it was not answered.

A member of my family was contacted directly by a local business owner who had seen the quad behind the GS Kidd School so I decided to go look myself.

While out searching, another Facebook message was received at 6.37pm stating they had seen a quad bike blasting down Wandobah Road within 5-10 minutes and entering the backyard of a property where the letters ‘FTP’ – a derogatory term used against police – was spray painted on the fence.

Attempts were made to contact police a number of times but there was no answer again.

On Wednesday, March 13, between Facebook messages and phone calls from community members, we drove past the suspected property again and saw a red quad bike parked near the fence. Again, numerous attempts to contact police were made without answer. Luckily the person who originally gave the information the day prior had a direct contact and organised for a police car to be there within five minutes.

Police arrived and spoke to two women at the property who stated they knew nothing about the quad. Police took photos and also found another motorbike in the backyard. Police also found syringes and needle wrappers in the back of the quad bike which police placed in a sharps container.

The quad bike had fresh black paint on the rims, mudguard and fenders and also letters ‘FTP’ spray painted on the bonnet.

“Information supplied by community members, including two names and number plate for the white ute, was shown to police at this time who stated they already knew this information.

After the bike was identified as mine, family members were told they could take the bike home. We asked the police why they were not forensically testing it and they said that was my request. I was out of town at the time but deny making any such claim. Police also said the conversation would not have been recorded.

Victim of crime, Brian Riordan from Gunnedah, with his red bike quad bike that was stolen, damaged and repainted before it was found abandoned at another property in Gunnedah. He said the bike was only recovered through help of the community. Photo: Sam Woods

The police were asked about forensically testing the syringes that were found but said the officer said they were already contaminated because they had been in the sharps container. When questioned why they were not disposed in a way that did not contaminate them so they could be tested, the officer said they wouldn’t have been forensically tested anyway.

[Gunnedah police said the bike was not forensically examined as police did not feel that the item was suitable. The nature of its location, condition, and the location it was found, in the police view, would not be able to progress the matter any further , hence no examination was undertaken. Further if it was seized for examination, it may have also been declined by forensic services group for similar reasons]

“The police were asked if they would be staying at the property until we returned with a trailer which was already organised to which the police replied they had stayed longer than needed.

My family was concerned about returning to pick up the bike from this driveway as it was another person’s property to which the police stated: “Just push it across the road and one of you stay with it while the other gets the trailer”. The family realised they were not getting anywhere and said we will sort it out. It was when the quad was pushed that the extent of damages to the front steering and axles was noticed.

[Gunnedah police said the owner of the quad indicated he did not want the vehicle towed on recovery, hence that is why police did not organise the tow. Police said in these situations, it remains the responsibility of the owner to organise the vehicles recovery. It was understood that attending police contacted the owner, who in due course has had a representative attend, un-equipped to undertake such an activity. Police waited at the scene for an hour while the owner’s representative planned for the vehicle recovery. Police only organise tows on behalf of the owners at their request, which they are financially responsible for, or for scientific examination which police are responsible for.]

“Police do not wish for the community to take actions into their own hands. This is where the community feels as though the police presence is a joke. This is the perfect example because in this situation, the theft of this quad bike including identification of vehicles involved, complete timeframe from theft to location, was due to no police intervention. It was the community!

Due to the support of community members and my family being proactive, the bike was located and returned in less than 24 hours of being reported.

Throughout a 16-hour period, between three people including myself, there were 13 attempts to contact the police without answer. Except for the initial report, the police were uncontactable throughout this time.

[Regarding the attempts to contact police, Gunnedah police would like to speak with Mr Riordan regarding this to establish exactly the circumstances surrounding these calls to establish when and who made the calls to get a better understanding of this question.]

“I’ve never believed in vigilante groups however, situations like this certainly open the question – is this the only way people are going to feel they can get anywhere? These crimes invoke that victims of crime need to band together and be proactive in protecting our community. As I’ve found with this, that was only the community’s involvement that contributed to a successful outcome.”

[Gunnedah police strongly discourage any type of vigilante behaviour. Police said such behaviour is reckless, dangerous and puts the community at greater risk. Police encouraged those who have concerns to directly contact the local police to report, so police can work collaboratively to address any community concerns.

Gunnedah police also said they were contacted by community members, hence resulting in their attendance and the recovery of the quad bike.

Police said they always seek community support in relation to the reporting of crime and the community should remain confident that police will continually engage and interact with the community at all levels concerning crime, responding quickly and professionally in all instances, providing customer service and victim care as required].

Who to contact?

Gunnedah police – 6742 9099

Crimestoppers – 1800 333 000 (can report anonymously)

Police Assistance Line – 131 444 (for non-urgent police assistance, reporting minor crime, general enquiries).

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