Thieves seize cards

A goodwill gesture has been soured by opportunistic criminal activity, with reports several $100 vouchers have been stolen from Morwell mailboxes.

However, Hazelwood mine owner GDF Suez has moved to reassure residents, stolen cards could be cancelled and replaced.

The company’s ‘Revive Morwell’ initiative posted $100 vouchers to 6700 Morwell households on Thursday and Friday in an effort to revive the town’s business sector after the mine fire.

The vouchers can be spent in stores across Morwell, except for purchasing cigarettes and alcohol, or gambling.

Morwell police said they were following up on a number of leads relating to the voucher thefts and had apprehended two men, a 24 year-old from Hazelwood North and a 22 year-old from Morwell.

Sergeant Riki Maaka said the men were found in possession of 11 cards on Thursday night and would face theft charges at Latrobe Valley Magistrates’ Court on 30 July. Sgt Maaka said police increased patrols of Morwell streets on Thursday and Friday in the likelihood the card delivery would cause increased criminal activity.

One resident, who believed his card had been stolen, told The Express delivering the cards by post was “just asking for people to take them”.

“It’s a token gesture for nothing. I would rather someone clean the parts of my house that I can’t reach,” he said.

A GDF Suez spokesperson said the cards were linked to the intended recipient’s address, and the company could cancel those cards reported stolen.

“We can replace the cards and they shouldn’t be alarmed,” the spokesperson said.

“It’s disappointing that they’re being taken.”

The spokesperson said the company looked at a variety of ways to get the cards to residents, and Australia Post was the best option.

They reminded residents, while the aim of the cards was to get “cash registers ringing” as soon as possible, the money could be spent until the end of June.

To report a missing card, phone 5177 2380.