Fake signs claiming to be from a Victorian council have been erected at children’s playgrounds falsely telling the community the public spaces are open for use.
Several fraudulent signs were discovered in different locations within the City of Kingston council area, currently subject to stage-three restrictions due to the coronavirus, complete with mayor Georgina Oxley’s forged signature.
Families were using the equipment over the weekend under the pretence it was safe to do so as the sign claimed “children are the safest community group”.
“It’s disgraceful, it’s outrageous. It’s putting people’s lives at risk, that’s ultimately what it’s doing,” Ms Oxley told Yahoo News Australia.
“Unfortunately there were some people over the weekend who believed the signs and thought they were doing the right thing.
“It really is quite a despicable act, to go and do that and put lives and our community at risk, it’s a pretty low act.”
A number of families were understood to have used equipment at Chelsea Bicentennial Park and Bonbeach Recreation Reserve over the weekend after seeing the fraudulent signs.
Multiple signs were understood to have been erected at both parks reading, “Kingston City Council recognises that a strong immune system is [the] best defence against the current COVID-19 threat and children are the safest community group”.
“Your children can best maintain a healthy immune system by the following: regular vitamin D, regular physical activity [and] healthy eating habits,” the sign continued.
“Please observe all required social distancing measures while using this park equipment,” it read, signed off with a fraudulent version of Ms Oxley’s signature.
The sign also features the official council logo and its regular coloured branding plus a list of contact details.
Ms Oxley said the council hoped police would be able to obtain security footage from at least one of the parks to ascertain who was responsible for the “really upsetting” act.
“Ultimately the messaging is the playgrounds are closed – we’re in stage-three restrictions – it’s to keep everyone safe, they’re closed for a reason,” she said.
Local MP Tim Richardson told Yahoo News Australia he was left scratching his head over what would compel someone to execute such a heinous operation.
“Seriously I’ve got no idea what the hell has gone on here,” he said, urging the perpetrator to “come forward, do the right thing and hand yourself in”.
Police urged to take matter ‘extremely seriously’
“If someone was to contract the coronavirus as a result of an infection there and then became very sick, this is a serious, serious matter,” he said, labelling the behaviour “deeply concerning and despicable”.
“We would ask Victoria Police to take this extremely seriously.”
Mr Richardson encouraged anyone who visited the playgrounds over the weekend, and subsequently had concerns they may have been infected, to be tested for COVID-19.
Victoria Police told Yahoo News Australia the matter had been reported and “the origin of these signs [were] now under investigation”.
“Proactive patrols will take place in the area to prevent a reoccurrence, while all signage of this nature in the area will also be removed,” police said.
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