Looters targeting homes on the state’s fire-ravaged South Coast will face the “full force of the law”, authorities warn, after police charged people for trespassing and carrying tools including a crowbar.

Police in uniform and plain clothes are patrolling towns in the state’s south-east amid fears of looting at properties that were abandoned when fire tore through the region over the weekend.

Three people will face court over offences allegedly committed in bushfire-affected areas since Sunday.

A boy, 17, will face court this month after police said they found him carrying a screwdriver and bandana as they patrolled a street in Bangalee, near Nowra, on Sunday.

On Monday, police searched a man they say was acting suspiciously on Pitt Street in North Nowra.

The man was allegedly carrying a knife, a crowbar, torches, plyers and military badges.

He was charged with several offences, including possessing house-breaking implements and a knife in public, and will face court later this month.

Another man, 33, was charged after witnesses notice him driving around Moruya acting suspiciously, police said.

He was eventually charged with high-range drink driving and entering enclosed land without a lawful excuse, which police said related to the man allegedly trespassing on a property at Wamban.

Deputy Commissioner Gary Worboys said “large numbers” of police were patrolling fire-affected areas to deter opportunistic thieves from “absolutely unacceptable – and criminal – behaviour”.

“It’s difficult to comprehend that there are people who would try to profit or benefit at the expense of communities who have already lost so much,” Deputy Commissioner Worboys said.

“I urge anyone who sees suspicious or criminal activity to contact police immediately. We will act swiftly to put these people before the courts.”

Emergency Services Minister David Elliott said anyone who took advantage of vulnerable bushfire-affected communities should face “the full force of the law”.

“At a time when we’re seeing unprecedented levels of generosity pour in from every corner of NSW, it’s unthinkable that anyone would seek to exploit those who most need our support.”

“They are the lowest of the low and the government will continue to back our police in their efforts to keep criminals out of communities devastated by fire during these difficult times”

Police have taken legal action against more than 180 people so far this bushfire season, including charging 24 people with deliberately lighting bushfires.

Officers have launched legal action against 53 people for failing to comply with a total fire ban and against 47 people for discarding a lighted cigarette or match on land.

Legal action ranges from cautioning to laying criminal charges, police said on Monday.

Among the 24 charged with the deliberate lighting of fires was 19-year-old RFS volunteer Blake William Banner, who was arrested in relation to seven different fires in the Bega Valley.

None of those fires are threatening the South Coast.

Any information to Crime Stoppers,1800 333 000.

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