Dylan Wareham is not yet sure how much he will be set back by having his prized vehicle stolen and torched last month, but he knows it will be a serious hit
The 20-year-old builder from Mortlake woke on the Grand Final Eve public holiday to find his white Hilux ute missing from the front of his house.
“My mum woke me up asked where my ute was, and I thought dad might’ve moved it,” Mr Wareham said.
“We got up and had a look around and rang a few of my close mates, thinking it was a prank.
“I just didn’t believe it.”
The man’s experience comes as data shows there has been a spike in the number of car thefts across the region, with more than 100 occurring in the 2015-2016 financial year.
After realising the vehicle had been stolen from the front of his house, Mr Wareham contacted police.
He said a couple of hours later a farmer found the ute, which had been set alight, near their property.
“A farmer found it – he went down the lane and there was nothing there, and then he went back down and there was a ute in flames,” Mr Wareham said. “So they did it in broad daylight.”
Mr Wareham said he had worked hard and saved up to buy the ute, which was his first major vehicle purchase.
“I was gutted because I’d only had the ute six months and had had it all fixed just how i wanted it,” he said.
The vehicle was insured, but Mr Wareham is still waiting for his claim to be processed, and doubts any compensation will cover the five-year loan he took out to get it.
“You feel frustrated that someone would do it to something like that,” he said.
“You have to save up, but for them it was just a getaway vehicle they smashed and didn’t care about.”
Luckily, Mr Wareham had removed some expensive tools from the vehicle, but some smaller tools and recently-installed driving lights were destroyed in the fire.
He said social media played an important role in the ordeal – both in terms of the support he received and in tracking the ute down.