JavaScript disabled. Please enable JavaScript to use My News, My Clippings, My Comments and user settings.

If you have trouble accessing our login form below, you can go to our login page.

If you have trouble accessing our login form below, you can go to our login page.

Car firebombings hurt people, ruin lives, says victim

Date

David Ellery

Mark Zezulka, 21, lost his business when his car was firebombed.

Mark Zezulka, 21, lost his business when his car was firebombed. Photo: Katherine Griffiths

Chisholm's Mark Zezulka wants the ''idiots'' who think it is fun to set people's cars alight to realise their pranks are not victimless crimes.

An unprovoked attack in the school holidays at about 1.15am on July 16 last year cost the 21-year-old his successful prestige car detailing business, hospitalised him with second degree burns and put him off work almost two months.

The attack, like many such incidents involving vehicles in the city's outer suburbs, was not mentioned by police in a media release, or an online alert by the Emergency Services Agency.

Mark Zezulka's car.

Mark Zezulka's car.

Fairfax Media has sought details from ACT Policing on how commonplace and widespread the problem is. Victims and witnesses have repeatedly said that when first responders arrive they almost invariably say such attacks are par for the course and that offenders are rarely brought to justice.

This is despite the fact that their actions put families at risk, turn people's lives upside down. and endanger homes.

''Your story 'Firebomb victim unhappy with ACT police' (January 16) reminds me of how, about a year ago, our neighbourhood in Chapman was woken by a car firebombing in the early hours of one morning and then the arrival of the fire brigade,'' John Milne said.

Molten plastic from the burning rubbish bins caused second degree burns to Mark's body.

Molten plastic from the burning rubbish bins caused second degree burns to Mark's body.

''The house [where the attack occurred] was occupied by housesitters and the owners were overseas. What struck many [of us] at the time was the police saying 'this sort of thing happens all over Canberra all the time', or words to that effect.

''There seemed to be a certain nonchalance about the crime.''

This does not mean the incidents are not devastating for the victims.

''People don't realise that when something like this happens you have to put your life on hold while you sort it out,'' Mr Zezulka said.

His parents migrated from Czechoslovakia 25 years ago with nothing but their dreams of freedom and a willingness to work hard to make a new life, safe from harm.

''People say 'you are lucky you have insurance' but it is not luck; you pay for it and it doesn't cover everything.''

Mr Zezulka had to pay a $600 excess and lost hundreds of dollars of stock for his car detailing business that was in the car.

The attack, which shattered the innocence of a peaceful street where ''nothing ever happens'', was particularly vicious.

The offenders, believed to be two teenage boys, removed the Zezulkas' garden hose to make the fire more difficult to extinguish and threw rubbish bins through the windscreen of his pride and joy, a 2010 Holden Barina.

The alarm was raised by Mr Zezulka's mother Marie when she heard a noise outside.

''I thought it was Mark and wondered what he was doing,'' she said. ''I was half asleep when I opened the curtain and saw two figures; they were little, like kids. Then there were flames.

''I opened the window and started yelling 'what are you doing?' They turned around and left and then the neighbours came out.''

Mrs Zezulka, whose husband was away at the time, was badly shaken and feared for the safety of her two sons and her house. ''Any time I open the window I still see them [in her mind's eye]. Even now.''

While Mark was trying to put the fire out his twin, John, chased the culprits. ''I am glad he did not catch them,'' Mrs Zezulka said. ''He is very big and they were quite little and he could have killed them.''

Molten plastic from the burning rubbish bins splashed Mark's body while he was fighting the fire and an ambulance was called to take him to hospital.

He was scarred, and says the burns on one foot took months to heal.

By the time he was able to work again, most of his clients had moved on. ''I am really lucky in that I got a job with TransACT in the customer service area. If that hadn't come through when it did I would have run out of money, and I work with some really great people.''

That said, the self-confessed car tragic still misses getting up close and personal with the Ferraris, Lamborghinis, Rolls-Royces and Bentleys he used to keep pristine before last July.

He still does some detailing on weekends for a few special customers who stuck with him through the bad times but it just isn't the same.

10 comments

  • Unfortunately this does happen all the time. In about 1998/1999 my mums campervan was burnt down in our driveway. While it was insured, that didn't cover the thousands she had just spent on a new engine and new canvas to bring it up to good standard. The worst part was everyone including the police knew it was the jouvenile delinquent across the road, and nothing could be done about it. If you think your general underage kid gets a slap on the wrist, wait until you see what happens to them if they might have minor mental or psychological problems. They don't even get the slap, all the government wants to do is hold their hand!

    Commenter
    Daniel
    Location
    Canberra
    Date and time
    January 21, 2013, 8:14AM
    • I am with Daniel above. I think it's about time we do what they do in Britain, NAME the little mongrels, bring the shame on them and their families, after all, the parents should know where there ratbag children are, and since they are responsible for their upbringing, make the parents pay for the damage they cause. .

      Commenter
      Jeanne
      Date and time
      January 21, 2013, 9:00AM
      • Mark I won't say I know how you feel as I don't but I"ll bet pretty damn ticked off must come close.
        Mark, 1st, demand the police do something, 2nd, demand to know where they are up too or 3rd, find the kids yourself, give them a bloody good hiding and send them home where they can explain to their parents why it happened then expect a visit from the police after their parents complain about your actions, been there, done that.
        I know a person whose teenage son went to the aid of two young girls he knew and had a knife poked in his tummy by one of the three antaganists some years ago, fortunately he had the reactions to bowl the kid base over apex, he is still waiting for police interveiw.

        Commenter
        Nitro Gangster
        Location
        ACT
        Date and time
        January 21, 2013, 9:02AM
        • Yep, 2006, Christmas Eve, Monterey Apartments, Boolee Street in Reid a car was firebombed in the 'secure carpark' the front half of our complex lost power for 2 or 3 days, can't remember exactly but over Christmas at least. Cops rocked up, said sorry wouldn't ever find the culprit and left.

          Commenter
          thermyan
          Location
          Phillip
          Date and time
          January 21, 2013, 9:34AM
          • I think the only way the cops would be interested is if you caught the perpetrators in the act and rendered them permanently immobile. Then you'd see some action alright - only you'd be the one in deep trouble.

            Commenter
            John
            Date and time
            January 21, 2013, 10:16AM
            • Not sure if it was a carbombing, but when I got back from sydney yesterday a holden astra was burnt out in the Beechwood complex...

              Commenter
              Zyk
              Location
              Florey
              Date and time
              January 21, 2013, 10:36AM
              • Fair dinkum, the AFP dont give a toss about crime, The only time you see them is when they are going to get lunch or showing off one of their periodic new toys to the media and even then you know they will use it for 6 months and then dump it. Where is the value for money? The streets sound like race track every night, never see a cop car.

                "Nonchalance about crime" is an understatement.

                Perhaps the government should put policing up for tender. Have targets and outcomes if they are not met give them the flick.

                The AFP wouldn't work in an iron lung with a double adaptor Everything is of little interest to them.

                Commenter
                the ghost of christmas past
                Date and time
                January 21, 2013, 10:53AM
                • I realise it's hard to catch them, but it's not impossible and I know for a fact the police are spending their time dealing with petty stuff that could be better spent catching them. It would take some time, but it would be well spent.

                  Commenter
                  John
                  Date and time
                  January 21, 2013, 11:15AM
                  • ACT Police can always think of a reason why they shouldn't have to do anything. Might mean they have to leave the air conditioning for a while I suppose. Over in Phillip, for example, they've been sitting three minutes easy walk from red-light runners' paradise (Hindmarsh/Athlon/Callam) for years. Never seen anyone there with a notebook though.

                    Commenter
                    MikeW
                    Location
                    Swinger Hill
                    Date and time
                    January 21, 2013, 11:55AM
                    • I had a credit card stolen some years ago and I found out from the bank it had been used at a service station in Fyshwick. The police couldn't even be bothered going to the service station to get the CCTV tapes. In another instance, a car was broken into and no fingerprints were taken. This apathetic approach to solving crime leads me to believe the police are quite lazy. Looking back, I should have complained to whoever the minister for police was at the time, and kept complaining until something was done.

                      Commenter
                      farnarkler
                      Location
                      Canberra
                      Date and time
                      January 21, 2013, 10:02PM
                      Comments are now closed
                      Featured advertisers

                      Special offers

                      Credit card, savings and loan rates by Mozo