Sixteen people have been arrested at the weekend as police continue to crackdown on criminal activity in bushfire-affected towns.
Operation Piper was established by the South Coast Police District to focus on property theft and criminal activity, providing a high-visibility police presence and saturating fire-affected towns.
The operation, which ran from January 16-19, targeted the townships of Bermagui, Cobargo, Bemboka, Bega, Tathra, Merimbula, Eden and Moruya.
Police searched 43 people and conducted 18 vehicle searches, with seven people issued move-on directions, 20 issued with traffic or court infringement notices for various offences, seven were allegedly found to be in possession of illegal drugs, and five businesses inspected.
More than 400 random breath tests and vehicle stops were conducted across the four days.
There were several incidents of note among those recorded by Operation Piper.
A 41-year-old man from Broadwater was found to be driving while suspended during a vehicle stop in Merimbula. He is due to face Bega Local Court on February 25.
Then on Friday, January 17, three men and a woman were charged following separate vehicle stops in Bega.
A 24-year-old man allegedly returned a positive reading to a random breath test and his licence was suspended on the spot. He will face Bega Local Court on February 25 for driving with a mid-range PCA.
A 32-year-old man was allegedly found in possession of a prohibited drug. He will face Bega Local Court on February 11.
A 33-year-old woman was also allegedly found in possession of a prohibited drug. She will face Bega Local Court on March 17.
A 44-year-old man allegedly returned a positive reading to a random drug test and was banned from driving for 24 hours. Inquiries are continuing.
Meanwhile, during a vehicle stop in Eden, police arrested a 31-year-old man from South Australia after he allegedly provided false details. He was found to have three outstanding arrest warrants and faced Batemans Bay Local Court on Friday.
On Saturday, January 18, three men and three women were charged following separate vehicle stops in Bega, Eden and Bermagui.
A 29-year-old man allegedly returned a positive reading to a random drug test and was banned from driving for 24 hours. Inquiries are continuing.
A 20-year-old woman was allegedly found in possession of prohibited drugs. She will face Eden Local Court on February 5.
A 16-year-old girl was allegedly found in possession of a prohibited drug and will be dealt with under the Young Offenders Act.
A 45-year-old man allegedly returned a positive reading to a random breath test. He will face Eden Local Court on February 5 for driving with mid-range PCA.
A 39-year-old man allegedly returned a positive reading to a random breath test. He will face Narooma Local Court on February 13 for driving with low-range PCA.
A 33-year-old woman will face court on February 25 for driving while licence cancelled.
A 59-year-old man was stopped in Bega and allegedly found in possession of a prohibited drug. He will face Bega Local Court on February 25.
A 38-year-old man was arrested in Bega CBD and charged with offensive behaviour. He is due to face Bega Local Court on March 17.
During a vehicle stop in Moruya on Sunday, January 19, a 30-year-old man was arrested and taken to Batemans Bay Police Station, where he was charged with stalk/intimidate, destroy or damage property, use carriage service to menace/harass/offend. He was refused bail to appear at Batemans Bay Local Court Monday, January 20.
Meanwhile, further north, officers executed a search warrant at a home in Ulladulla and allegedly located cannabis. A 34-year-old man was charged with cultivating a prohibited plant and possessing a prohibited drug. He is due to face Milton Local Court on February 13.
South Coast Police District Commander, Acting Superintendent Joe Thone said police will continue to target criminal activity in bushfire-affected areas.
"We are sending a message to the community that no matter how big or small the crime is, we will be out in force targeting illegal activities," Acting Supt Thone said.
"We have seen how devastating the recent fires have been on our South Coast community, and we will continue to target and prosecute those who choose to do the wrong thing.
"Our officers are maintaining a high-visibility police presence throughout the South Coast to ensure the community can safely return to their homes and businesses without the added worry or pressure of looting and illegal activity taking place."