Hours before a farming family was due to help fight the Currowan bush fire, they were shocked to discover their ute - decked out with firefighting equipment - was stolen from Long Beach.
The Central West NSW family, who are also Long Beach RFS volunteers, loaded up the ute with tanks, water, pumps and professional firefighting hoses last week.
"We thought, 'we'll do the right thing: Help the community we know and love', and loaded up the ute," the mother, who wished not to be named. said.
The family spent most of Thursday, December 5, clearing Long Beach properties and turned in for a few hours' rest that afternoon.
They were due to head to the fireground that night to do their bit to tackle the monster 78,000-hectare fire.
But when they woke up, the ute, with all the equipment on board, was gone. It was taken at about 4pm.
"It is a really low act," the mother said.
The family did not want to draw attention away from the devastation to homes and properties the fire has caused, or to detract from messages from firefighters to protect oneself and be ready to take action.
The family believes the theft could have been the result of a moment of panic in a difficult situation.
However, the family hoped "when the heat of the fire is over", whoever took the vehicle could leave it somewhere obvious for the family or Long Beach RFS to pick it up.
"We understand what fear and panic can do to people ahead of a fire approaching," the mother said.
She said, besides the theft, the community had come together "in a big way".
The family also used the ute on their sheep farm and had unique internal fittings for farm use.
The white Toyota Landcruiser ute's number plate is RYN708 and it has a black bull bar, rusty side rails and internal farm fittings.
Contact the Police Assistance Line 131 444 if you have information.