Sign stockpile no laughing matter

THE chuckles heard in the Emerald Magistrate’s Court were quickly stifled when Tyrone Stephen Vanzella was told the potential dangers of stealing council street signs.

The 23-year-old pleaded guilty to one count of possessing tainted property after police searched his Ruby St home on Thursday, June 9, and discovered 14 road signs in his bedroom.

Magistrate Cameron Press said the potential dangers of stealing a road sign meant the offence was serious.

“It might seem a prank but I hope you realise that removing a sign could cause tragedy for someone,” Magistrate Press said.

“It’s stupid.”

Prosecutor Sergeant Robyn Shapcott told the court Mr Vanzella had an “unusual hobby of collecting street signs” and had accumulated them over a number of years.

She said Mr Vanzella, a plumber and labourer by trade, told police in a recorded interview on Sunday, June 19, he had collected the signage across a number of years.

The stolen items included road closures, stop signs, street names, stop/go signs, as well as a number of witches hats and lights, which police seized.

Defence solicitor Charles Lumsden told the court his client, who pleaded guilty “at the first available opportunity to show his remorse”, grew up in Innisfail, North Queensland, before moving to Emerald to work in the grape industry.

But the move, Mr Lumsden said, coincided with the floods which meant he was out of work and “suffered financial hardship”.

He said Mr Vanzella’s previous history showed “no indication he is a criminal or a bad person in nature”.

Vanzella was fined $700. No conviction was recorded.

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