A FIREFIGHTER is counting the cost after thieves stole his work truck.
Bill Hutchinson, who runs the Village Forge of Berry and is a retained firefighter with Fire and Rescue NSW at Berry, said the theft will greatly affect his livelihood.
Mr Hutchinson had parked the white Toyota Dyna truck at a highly visible location at Gerroa on the intersection of Crooked River Road and Headland Drive around 20 metres from his home on Friday afternoon.
The distinctive truck, with red tool boxes and a red crane on the rear and signs around the vehicle, which was also full of his tools, was taken sometime between 4pm Friday (January 11) and 6.30am Saturday.
Mr Hutchinson, who is a blacksmith by trade and a heavy metal fabricator, runs his business out of the Berry Rural Co-op in Creamery Lane.
He said he was devastated by the theft.
“It has taken a couple of days for me to find my voice to say anything about it, I’m dumbstruck,” he said.
“I couldn’t believe it, I’ve parked my truck in that high-profile location for ages and it’s just 20 metres from my home.
“I was on a break and my wife Lisa came home early Saturday morning and asked where my truck was.
“My heart just sank.
“I have been hoping that my mates in the brigades will ring and say they have found it on the side of a road somewhere, not burnt out or anything and with my tools in it.”
Mr Hutchinson has operated his workshop in Berry since 1999 and has undertaken a broad range of work from large automated property gates, which cost up to $50,000, down to tiny little repairs of garden equipment and sharpening secateurs or fire pokers.
While his truck is insured, he has spent more than 200 hours custom fitting it for his job with a crane and cable winch.
Unfortunately, his tools, which enable him to be mobile and work on location and are valued between $5000 and $10,000, are not insured.
“Without the truck and tools I’m stuck in the workshop and can’t really go out and install any of the jobs I may have created or I can’t even pick up parts or supplies,” he said.
Although admitting he loves the job, he is now considering putting the business on the market and turning his hand to firefighting.
“I’m transferring from the Berry to the Nowra retained brigade,” he said.
“Berry has between 80 and 100 calls a year while Nowra has between 600 and 800 callouts, so my income will increase dramatically and that will take the pressure off to some extent at the forge.”
The truck registration is VKJ-918 and is distinctive with red tool boxes and a red crane on the rear and sign writing around the vehicle.
If you have any information to assist police contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.