Rifles stolen in raid on Riverton RSL

Angry: Riverton RSL member Leonie Collidgesays the items belong to war veterans and for everyone to reflect on.
Angry: Riverton RSL member Leonie Collidgesays the items belong to war veterans and for everyone to reflect on.

MEMBERS at the Riverton RSL have spoken out against three thefts in the past 10 months, where war memorabilia has been stolen.

A German Mauser rifle and an Australian .303 rifle have been stolen, along with a historic Gurkha ceremonial knife donated by an RSL member.

The knife was a gift to the former soldier from the Scottish Highland Division, who received it while working in Nepal in 1966.

Two weeks ago, thieves returned to steal more items but were unable to remove the firearms from the wall.

On all occasions, there has been no sign of forced entry and thieves have targeted only war memorabilia, never taking alcohol or other items.

Ten-year member Leonie Collidge said she was mortified by the thefts and felt angry.

“These items belong to war veterans – they are items from war and are for everybody to reflect on, not for one person,” she said.

“Every time we have been robbed the focus has been on collectable artefacts rather than alcohol.”

All the rifles stolen have been disarmed so they are no longer capable of firing.

President Bill Collidge said he was extremely disappointed thieves had targeted the club.

“To break in three times is a despicable act,” he said.

“We are a local community-based club working hard to keep the club spirit alive and to look after our veteran’s welfare. We believe it’s the same group each time trying to steal our replica display firearms,” he said.

He said the theft of the knife had devastated the 80-year-old donor veteran.

“This time, the thieves have taken an historic Gurkha ceremonial knife that had been donated by one of our long-standing members. It is irreplaceable and he is devastated at its loss,” he said.

Mr Collidge said club members were people who have served in the military forces and social members from the wider community.

“Other groups use our facilities too, such as the social darts players and the local Red Hat Ladies for their local community meetings. We welcome them all,” he said.

“Our facilities and displays are here for everyone to enjoy from elderly veterans through to our young cadets and the members of the broader community who visit our premises on club nights.

“It’s very disappointing that it looks like someone has been to our club, seen our displays and wants these rare items hanging on their wall, not ours.”

He called on the public to report any suspicious activity surrounding the club or identifiable firearms to police.

He also urged the thief to return the items.

“I urge whoever has taken our artefacts to please return them to us. They are an important part of our club and are highly valued by all members,” he said.

People who know anything about these robberies or are aware of any suspicious behaviour can contact Crime Stoppers WA on 1800 333 000 or make an anonymous report online at www.crimestopperswa.com.au.