The bar has been stolen by a bunch of decor thieves.
It’s Christmas eve, and your family are celebrating the start of the new year.
It’s the perfect time to dress up, get dressed and have a good time, but when you walk through the door of your favourite bar, you might just spot a new batch of decorations.
“There is no denying that there are some really fantastic decorations being displayed,” says Michelle Withers, co-owner of the Wither’s Tavern in Melbourne’s north-west.
“It’s been a busy year, with some really special decorations, and there have been some really cool things.”
But what’s the problem?
Bar decor thieves?
In Victoria, there are four categories of crimes that can result in fines of up to $4,000 for each offence: theft, possession of a weapon, possession for a drug or alcohol offence, and mischief.
The offences can be grouped into three broad categories, according to the Victorian Criminal Code.
“The main offence that we have here is stealing,” says Ms Wither.
“There are three main offences that we deal with.
The main one is theft by deception.”
That’s the crime that lets the police identify a bar as the offender.
“What we do is we identify the bar as being in the business of stealing and that’s what we will pursue,” says Victoria Police spokeswoman Jennifer Anderson.
“So if they’re the owner, we will prosecute them under the Theft Act.”
The second offence is for possession for drugs.
“Possession of drugs is also a serious offence in Victoria,” Ms Anderson says.
“We have a number of drug offences where we have to show that there is a risk to the public and we will take that to the court to determine whether there is sufficient evidence to prosecute.”
The third offence is mischief.
“If you are stealing from a public place, then we have the offence of mischief, and we can take the property away,” she says.
If the theft is for less than $1000, you can apply to the Police Commissioner for an exception.
“Our enforcement officers will apply to a court to have the property taken away,” Ms Withering says.
The fourth offence is possession of property for the purposes of committing a serious crime, such as drug trafficking.
“You could get a fine for that,” Ms Wilson says.
“It could be up to 50k.”
What do we do about it?
It’s the police’s job to make sure the property is not being used for unlawful purposes.
“I think that the Police Minister has made it clear that they are not going to go after people who are doing these crimes,” Ms Wood says.
What happens if we find out about the theft?
“The Police Minister would probably say, ‘Oh my goodness, we’re going to have to prosecute you,'” Ms Wethers says.
But the police are more than happy to help, says Ms Anderson.
If there is an incident that involves the theft of the bar, it can be dealt with in the same way as any other criminal offence.
“Once you have a complaint, you’re going, ‘OK, we’ve got to get you the property’,” she says, adding: “The police are not the only ones that have the ability to do that.”
So if the bar is a legitimate business, there is no need to complain.
“If it’s just a hobby, there’s no problem.
If it’s a business that’s a nuisance, then the police will have the power to make that complaint to the local council.”
The Wither family has seen the value of the decor stolen from their bar.
“Some of the decorations were really beautiful,” Ms Grier says.
So if you want to know more about the thefts, you could visit our article on how to prevent the theft.