BURGLARS have put a coastguard office “off line” at a time when the north coast is still being battered by Storm Gareth.
There was a break-in at the Coleraine Coastguard Station and it is believed the raiders struck at the height of the storm.
A Coleraine Coastguard spokesperson said on Wednesday: “With great sadness, we woke this morning to find our station had been broken into and ransacked.
“As well as the upset this had caused our volunteers, the result of this is that our team has had to be declared off line until the PSNI have completed investigations and we can be 100% sure our equipment is complete and safe to use.
“Thankfully, our flank teams provide cover so the Coastguard Rescue Service will still be able to respond within our normal response times. Call 999 and ask for the Coastguard for incidents on the coast.
“We will do our utmost to get the Coleraine team back on line as soon as possible.”
Police in Coleraine are appealing for witnesses and information following reports of five burglaries at various business premises in a business park in the Gateside Road area of Coleraine.
Detective Sergeant Gardiner said: “All of these burglaries occurred sometime overnight, with a number of items being stolen from the different premises.
“One of the premises effected was the base for the Coleraine Coast Guards. Because of the interference caused to computers and other equipment the coast guard has had to come offline for the day, therefore they are unable to attend any emergency calls, which is extremely worrying on a day with weather like today.
“I would appeal to anyone who noticed any suspicious activity or vehicles in the area of Gateside Road, Coleraine last night to please contact detectives at Coleraine on 101, quoting reference numbers 240, 244, 270, 286 and 324 13/03/19. Alternatively, information can also be provided to the independent charity Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111, which is 100% anonymous and gives people the power to speak up and stop crime.”
Commenting on the burglary Claire Sugden MLA said: “I hope whoever is responsible for this crime is ashamed of themselves. Not only have you disgusted a community and town, you have put lives at risk by removing a vital service due to your pathetic behaviour.
“Coleraine Coastguard provides a life-saving service on the North Coast. Their work is tireless, selfless and absolutely necessary.
“Most of those working for the Coastguard are volunteers, giving their time and energy for others. Those responsible for this attack would do well to learn from the example of these volunteers because they are clearly selfish thugs with no regard for others.
“I give my full support to Coleraine Coastguard and hope to see them online again ASAP. If anyone has information please contact PSNI on non-emergency number 101,” Causeway Coast News reported.
Sinn Féin representative for Causeway Emma Thompson slammed those behind the burglary and ransacking of the Coleraine Coastguard station.
Emma Thompson said: “This attack on a vital service in our community is to be condemned outright.
“It has meant that the Coastguard is not able to provide its normal service and as such has potentially put the lives of people in the community at risk.”