“We strongly condemn the reckless stupidity that took place on the night of September 3, between 9:00pm and 5:30am at Merimbula Airport.
“On this night, a person or persons illegally entered Merimbula Airport and stole six runway lights from the northern end of the runway.
“This clearly violates the law and demonstrates a complete disregard for community safety and airport property.
“The stolen runway lights are essential for the safe landing of aircraft, and their theft had the potential to disrupt airport operations and endanger the lives of all those using the airport.
“The matter has been reported to the NSW Police and the Australian Government’s Department of Home Affairs, both of which have initiated investigations.
“The person or persons responsible should be aware that their actions carry severe consequences under the Aviation Transport Security Act 2004. Entering the airport airside area without permission carries a $5000 fine; in this case, where theft and damage have occurred, additional charges may apply.
“We urge anyone with information about this offence to come forward and assist in the ongoing investigation. Contact Crime Stoppers NSW at 1800 333 000 or submit information online at https://nsw.crimestoppers.com.au/. All correspondence will be confidential.
“Our Airport Management Team has installed temporary lights to ensure the continued safe use of Merimbula Airport, including night operations for our essential aeromedical and regular airline services.
“The Bega Valley community will not tolerate acts that place people’s lives at risk. Those responsible will be held accountable to the fullest extent of the law,” Cr Russell Fitzpatrick said.
Image: Six lights were stolen from the northern end of the runway