By Jen Gourley
Most of us were safely snuggled up under the blankets all night last night, but one local business owner was woken just after midnight by a phone call to say that her security alarm had gone off.
Michaela Lawson, owner/manager of Biloela Post Office & Tech Support, thought it was just mice at first when the security team rang at 12.20am, so she told them to reset the alarm.
It turned out it was more than just rodents causing a ruckus.
“Ten minutes later, Brad (from CQ Security and Patrols) rang me and he said, ‘Michaela, a brick’s been thrown through your post office’.”
Fortunately, her little daughter was sleeping over at her auntie’s place, so Michaela was able to call the police and then head straight to the post office on Gladstone Road.
It could have been scary to be out in the middle of the night, dealing with a break-in, but Michaela said she was okay.
“The policeman met me here, just checking out that there was no one in here to set off the alarms again. While I was here (at first), I had three big burly men. Then when the policeman had to go get kitted up, Brad got another call out. I locked the front entrance, so no one could come in unless there was another brick thrown through. Then I started looking at what had happened. I did notice some prepaid phones had been stolen. That was all. They had rummaged through my office. Nothing else had been stolen.”
When the policeman returned to the post office, Michaela was able to show him some very clear footage from the security cameras.
“He took notes and went straight away and investigated. I’ve since found out that he called the detective at 12.50am so he acted as soon as he knew something and was trying to find things out. He rang me to see if I needed any help with the clean-up and Brad from security came back to see if I needed help.”
But Michaela just wanted to lock up and start cleaning up the mess of shattered glass. She was only on her own for about 90 minutes before the mail sorter arrived at the usual time of 2.30am.
“The policeman checked on me a couple more times which was good. And then, just before opening hours, I rang Home Timber and Hardware and said I needed a plank of wood to block the door off and he goes, ‘How about I put your new door in?’ So, he was down within the hour and I have a new door now.
“The detective has been down and checked out the camera footage so they’ll keep me up to date, but I’m really happy with how prompt and informative the police have been with letting me know what’s happening.”
A much-loved local identity, Michaela is grateful for how the community rallied around her this morning after they had heard news of the break-in.
“I’ve had scones dropped off, I’ve had damper and now chocolates and flowers, ooh, and coffee,” Michaela said with a smile.
She’d not had a wink of sleep since that first call in the night and she was clearly tired, but Michaela was not going to let a smashed door, a floor covered in glass, stolen phones and an early morning clean-up get to her.
“I’ve had people say that maybe I’ll have a delayed reaction, but I came in, I got it done, cleaned it up – time to move on because there’s no point dwelling on what happened.
“We’re not going be an easy target. I did ask the police to do as much as they can.”
The door that was smashed by having a brick thrown through it was the door in the post office lobby that leads into the main post office area. This lobby can be accessed 24 hours a day so people have the convenience of checking their mailboxes whenever it suits them, but Michaela said that if there were any more problems, she would have to consider locking the lobby overnight.
Just a few days ago, Michaela was celebrating 10 years of being with Biloela Post Office so the break-in was a disappointing follow-up.
“I’ve been in this building for six years, and I haven’t had a problem before,” Michaela said. “Being a larger business, a strong central hub for the community, I just didn’t think that there would be possible disrespect, so I’m trying not to take that part too hard.”
Michaela’s plans for the rest of her very unusual day with its very early start and very unsettling news, included lunch with a friend, picking up her daughter, and making sure the post office was secure by the time she closed tonight.
Despite the unpleasantness of the break-in, Michaela is still thankful.
“It’s a bit sad, but it could have been worse. And it could have happened to someone who wouldn’t be able to rebuild so I’m grateful for that.”