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Discerning Thieves At Work in Melbourne

California Dreamer

Distinguished Member
Nov 6, 2006
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From today's Melbourne Age ...

Run of fashion-theft victims in city

Dewi Cooke
January 25, 2007

It was meant to be his grand opening.

But just days before James Cameron was due to throw open the doors to his eponymous label's first store, the 28-year-old's entire menswear collection was stolen.

"I was just shocked, really. I was meant to be taking photos and the whole place was empty," he said.

Mr Cameron estimates the cost-price value of the collection was about $20,000.

However, designs were cut from custom-made, imported fabrics and he expects they would have retailed for significantly more. Some of these were "irreplaceable" he said.

Also stolen were the samples from his next collection.

Victoria Police's Detective Senior Constable James Heenan said the theft on Saturday was "100-per-cent" linked to the burglaries of nearby designer shops around the central business district.

The boutique, like many of Melbourne's independent fashion stores, is tucked down a laneway off Flinders Street in the city. It was to open officially next week.

On the same day, Pitti Moda, on Russell Street was fleeced of $31,000 worth of stock; while, five days earlier, Borelli on Collins Street had $15,000 worth of suits stolen.

Thieves did not touch a number of pieces of designer furniture and, curiously, a single T-shirt printed with the slogan "the greater good".

"I was thinking, 'Are they intelligent criminals? Am I missing something?"' Mr Cameron said.

His collection had been 18 months in the making, with pieces featured in magazines.

Expensive clothing and accessories were a popular target for thieves, Detection Senior Constable Heenan said, with $250,000 worth of handbags taken from one city boutique about a year ago and pairs of designer sunglasses stolen from another just before last year's Melbourne Cup.

Anyone with information can call Crimestoppers 1800 333 000.
Jan 14, 2005
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Also from the proud-to-be-Australian file....

Councils pay private detectives to have illicit sex

MELBOURNE councils are paying private detectives to ******** with prostitutes, to gather evidence against illegal brothels.

Melbourne City Council and Yarra Council yesterday confirmed they had paid private investigators to approach prostitutes, and in at least 17 cases, investigators had sex with them.

Other councils across the city confirmed they had also paid private investigators to visit illegal brothels, but stopped short of confirming sexual services had been provided.

Victoria Police questioned the method of obtaining evidence, saying it was a highly unusual way of proving a brothel was operating illegally. "It has never been Victoria Police's practice to use that method of operation," Inspector Craig Walsh said last night. "I have been around for 22-odd years and I have never heard of it."

Police effectively stopped policing brothels when Victoria Police's vice squad was closed in 1999. Since then, complaints about brothels to police have been referred to local governments. Police said yesterday that enforcing illegal brothels was a planning issue.

Yarra Council confirmed yesterday it had hired investigators from a specialist firm six times in the past two years to gather evidence to be used against illegal brothels. On four occasions, this had involved investigators receiving a sexual service, a council spokeswoman said, enabling council to successfully prosecute and close the premises down.

"Council has an obligation to respond to community concerns and pursue any (brothel) that does not comply with the local planning scheme," Yarra mayor Jenny Farrar said.

"Without concrete evidence, Yarra is powerless to shut down these illegal operations." Cr Farrar said the courts had deemed that to be successful in a prosecution, a sexual service had to be provided. "This leaves us with little choice but to get the evidence needed to close these places down," she said.

The council would not reveal how much private investigators had paid to illegal brothels.

Melbourne City Council also confirmed that private investigators working for the council had paid for "sexual acts" performed by illegal prostitutes.

Chief executive David Pitchford said that these investigators had acted "voluntarily".

"Council has no alternative but to provide direct evidence to achieve a successful prosecution," Mr Pitchford said.

"Clients of illegal brothels cannot be forced to incriminate themselves."

William Albon, spokesman for the Australian Adult Entertainment Association that represents legal brothels and escort agencies, has long claimed there are more than 400 illegal brothels operating in Victoria. He said local councils were doing "excellent work" pursuing illegal brothels. "But it is regrettable that councils have had this enforcement task dumped on them," he said. Mr Albon said that, under the Prostitution Control Act, Consumer Affairs Victoria should be enforcing illegal prostitution.

"But they are hopelessly derelict in their duty," Mr Albon said. "The public records shows that not once in 13 years (has) CAV ... brought a prosecution of an illegal brothel before a court or tribunal."

The Municipal Association of Victoria called for more collaboration across various tiers of government so that councils did not have to resort to such desperate measures to shut down illegal brothels.

President Dick Gross said it should be easier for councils to close illegal brothels. "It needs to be defined how private investigators can (get evidence) in an illegal environment," he said.

He called for the Prostitution Control Act to be changed, along with the Planning and Environment Act, so that illegal brothels were easier to shut down.

"The real issues are residential amenity and immigration issues: women are far less protected in a deregulated environment," he said.

The State Government last year committed to reviewing the 1994 Prostitution Control Act. There is "a proliferation of illegal brothels in Melbourne" according to Monash councillor Geoff Lake, a former Municipal Association of Victoria president.


Get Smart

Don't Crink
Oct 27, 2004
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I'd take one for the team and help the investigation for free (the brothels, not the clothes).


Senior Member
Sep 24, 2006
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I bought a pair of rather outrÃ
yellow bluchers from Borrelli last year the day they were burgled and much to my chagrin, the corresponding yellow belt was amongst the items stolen. I still am yet to find a belt that matches.

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