Critical rescue equipment worth $20,000 has been stolen from a Victoria State Emergency Service site, hindering its ability to respond to road accidents in a crucial period.
An SES spokesman says several chainsaws and a set of road rescue hydraulics were stolen from the group's Upper Yarra unit in Wesburn, about one hour east from Melbourne, on Wednesday.
He says the unit only had two sets of hydraulics, meaning if multiple people are trapped in a road accident, it can now only respond to one at a time.
Severe thunderstorms are expected in the coming days, with the festive period generally seeing a spike in road accidents.
"We're really devastated," Upper Yarra Deputy unit controller Cam McDonald said on Wednesday.
"Ultimately it's the community that suffers; road safety is just so important this time of year. So right now we'll have less equipment to respond with if something happens.
"Hopefully someone realises this is pretty specialist equipment and doesn't have much broader use and they just return it."
The VICSES Upper Yarra Unit have responded to 342 requests for assistance in the past 12 months.