BUMBLING phone box bandits have again struck on the Border, but have smashed their target leaving the scene.

The Telstra pay phone was unbolted on Bottlebrush Street, Thurgoona, about 11.30pm on Friday.

Offenders in a gold coloured Ford AU Falcon attended the scene with a trailer.

They removed the phone box from its concrete base and drove away.

SMASHED UP: The thieves lost the phone box on Ironbark Street in Thurgoona, causing extensive damage to it. Police later took it away for forensic examination, and said the coin box had remained intact despite the impact.

It was found on the corner of Ironbark Road and Boree Court, about 100 metres away, half-an-hour later.

Detective Inspector Winston Woodward said police later attended and retrieved the stolen phone box.

It appeared to have fallen from the trailer, but the coin box was still intact.

“The item has been seized for forensic examination,” he said.

“(A) similar incident occurred last week in Bellbridge, Victoria, in which Victoria police are investigating.

BASE: The concrete base on Bottlebush Street in Thurgoona where the phone box had stood.

“Albury police (are) calling for information from the community who may have witnessed or heard information to contact Crime Stoppers or Albury police.”

Wodonga Detective Senior Constable Justin Foots said a phone box was taken from outside the Hume Boat Club on Bethanga Road between 5pm on August 20 and 7am on August 21.

There are some working theories about why it would be targeted.

“There are two trains of thought, that it was possibly taken for the coins, or possiblyfor personal interest where someone may have wanted it for a trophy,” he said.

Detective Senior Constable Foots said it was the first time he had heard of people stealing phone boxes.

“It would have likely taken two people to lift it onto a ute or trailer,” he said.

“We’re still appealing for information.”

People living near the Thurgoona phone box heardscraping sounds as it was loaded onto the trailer.

Some called Triple-0, and others heard a loud bang as it smashed onto the sidewalk.

Other than scrap metal and coins, the unit would be of no value to anyone.

Telstra has 22 payphones in the Albury areaand 17 in Wodonga.

Despite the growth in mobile phone use, those figures have only declined by one unit in the past four years.

Telstra area general manager Steve Tinker was keen for people to pass on information to police.

“It is concerning that someone would seek to damage property in this manner,” he said.

“We ask that anyone who has any information to please contact police.”

Those with information can call 1800 333 000 or the police stations.

Border Mail

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