Dalby businessman’s crime costs family $250K
A WESTERN Downs family has been left $250,000 out of pocket for repairs and replacements after a Dalby businessman removed heavy machinery from their property.
Stuart James Bazley, 56, walked away from Brisbane Magistrates Court with a small fine after he pleaded guilty to unlawful use of a motor vehicle charges after taking two front end loaders from Miles-based business Arthur Pipe and Steel, and Coates Hire in Chinchilla.
The court heard between May 5-9, 2018, Bazley attended the Arthur Pipe and Steel site on Laycock Rd in Miles with a quad axle dolly and a drop deck trailer towed by a prime mover.
Bazley went on to unlock the Caterpillar loader using a key belonging to him, and removed it from the property.
When business owner directed by Allan Arthur and his family flew to Miles from Aubury to visit the site on May 9, he was astonished to discover the loader had vanished.
"We flew up there in our own plane and landed in the yard," Mr Arthur said.
"When we got in there we looked for the loader … and we noticed it was gone. My twin boys spent three to four days driving around scouting, going through every CCTV camera that we could find, every service station camera … trying to track it down, and we found one camera that had this low loader going past which turned out to be Bazley's."
Mr Arthur's loader was located weeks later on the Warrego Highway in Dalby, where his son picked it up and brought it home.
Mr Arthur said he received an anonymous phone call from a woman who told him she knew who stole the machine just days before the loader was located.
"It was a very, very funny phone call," he said.
"She said she would ring us back and we never heard back again."
The court heard police attended Bazley's address on May 27 where he admitted to taking the loader, but told police he only intended on borrowing the vehicle to complete some work on his property before returning it.
Mr Arthur said he couldn't come to terms with the fact that somebody had taken his property, but praised the efforts of Dalby police in locating the stolen item.
"It took a while to sink in that it was actually stolen, we couldn't believe it," he said.
"And nobody could.
"The cops were fantastic, they did everything they possibly could - they were really proactive."
The crime forced Mr Arthur, who has owned his family business for the last 35 years, $250,000 out of pocket to replace the custom-made loader, only to have the original loader located and delivered back to the site weeks later.
Mr Arthur told of the inconveniences the business faced because of the crime.
"We hired a little telehandler in to try and do the job but it just couldn't do it, we couldn't load trucks," he said.
"I know one deal we might have lost, maybe perhaps … but certainly a couple of deals we had sold fell through.
"But we never said that we lost deals, we just tried to get on with our jobs and make the best of a messy situation.
"It was very frustrating, it was very annoying, and it was very very hard."
Mr Arthur and his family were forced to rethink the way they conducted business for the week where their loader was out of action.
"We load big, big pipe out of there, we need something that lifts seven, eight, ten tonne," he said.
"Suddenly all we could do was lift two tonne at a time, so it was a real problem."
The Brisbane Magistrates Court heard Bazley committed an almost identical crime just days later, targeting another Western Downs business.
In May 2018 the second victim company, Coates Hire, hired a Caterpillar Roller to Downer EDO Works.
The business used the vehicle for road construction in Columboola when they left it parked in a holding yard. An informant from the business noticed the vehicle had gone missing between May 9-11, initially believing Coates Hire had taken the vehicle back before reporting it as stolen.
On July 16, a technician attended a feedlot on Kogan-Condamine Road to repair a Caterpillar Roller on the property.
The technician found damage to the chassis and engine numbers, and discovered it was the machine allegedly stolen from Coates Hire and Downer EDO Works.
The court heard Bazley told police he had hired the machine after seeing a phone number on a tree advertising the use of the loader.
He said he had never met the owner and could not provide a name, but passed on the number he saw on the tree, which was found to be disconnected.
Police investigations proved Bazley was contracted to complete works on the feedlot where the roller was found, and the defendant had never contacted the number he provided to police.
Mr Arthur said he didn't want restitution as much as he wanted to see justice served, and an adequate punishment given.
"All I ever wanted was justice," he said.
"We could have gone down every avenue of recourse, we could have appealed for more money but we didn't want that.
"We just wanted justice done. Whatever the magistrate could throw at this guy, we wanted everything thrown at him."
Bazley pleaded guilty to two counts of unlawful use of a motor vehicle.
He was hit with a $1000 fine in total with convictions recorded and was ordered to pay $35,000 in compensation to the businesses.
But Mr Arthur said he was disappointed with the outcome, and spoke of the stress it caused his family.
"It's taken its toll," he said.
"We look at our business there with a different view. But for him to admit to stealing and plead guilty, for that magistrate to just give him a couple of $500 fines - it's a joke. An absolute joke."
It's been almost two years since Mr Arthur and his business were victimised by Bazley.
"We've definitely moved on," he said.
"Life goes on but it left us mentally, and physically scarred.
"We have a really funny attitude. We embrace Miles and we try to love Miles but we just have a funny attitude now."