Port Phillip Council is asking residents to play detective and look out for missing bronze plaques and artworks after a spate of thefts and attempted thefts over the past few weeks.
The stolen items from Elwood and St Kilda include a sundial, provided by local children’s author Celeste Walters, to delight children travelling to and from school along Elwood Canal. The bluestone plinth is now all that remains.
Celeste donated the sundial and plinth in 2017 after receiving a generous bequest from a friend to encourage learning. “I wasn’t sure what to do until one day I saw a mother and child studying a sundial on an octagonal plinth. This is more than a beautiful monument, I thought – it’s a tool for learning.”
Until it was stolen, the sundial was studied by Elwood College science students and admired by passers-by. Council is looking at commissioning a replacement.
Celeste hopes the thief will return the original sundial – if they still have it. “I would say to them, it’s not yours, it’s not mine. It’s for people everywhere, inside and outside our community, to enjoy.”
Acting Mayor Tim Baxter said it could cost Council about $10,000 to replace all the artefacts. “And of course you can’t place a monetary value on the loss of markers of our City’s history.”
The reason for the thefts is unclear but may be related to the metal being sold. Anyone who notices a missing plaque is encouraged to call Council’s ASSIST line on 9209 6777 so it can be added to the list.
If a plaque theft is in progress, Victoria Police advises witnesses to call Triple Zero (000). Police are encouraging anyone who saw suspicious activity in the relevant areas, or who may have seen similar items for sale in scrap metal yards, to contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000 or online.
– Bronze sundial from Elwood Canal
– Plaque from the Memorial Cairn in Port Ormond marking the site of Victoria’s first quarantine station (established in 1840 when the Glen Huntley sailed into Port Phillip flying the quarantine flag)
– Plaque recognising the service of ex-Soviet Union veterans in World War II at the Jim Duggan Reserve, St Kilda
– Plaque on a gazebo at the St Kilda Botanical Gardens donated by the Levi family in 1929.
– Plaque on the St Kilda Botanical Gardens conservatory
– Plaque on a water sculpture at a West St Kilda street intersection.