Click across for photos of the sign now.
WHEN the vintage “Fruit Sweets Smokes” sign at Wodonga’s Delibean cafe was stolen in the dead of night, the cafe’s operators were convinced they would never see it again.
Luck, however, was on their side.
A chance find by a council worker has seen the much-loved Wodonga icon returned five months after it was wrenched from the shop front, its neon lights smashed but otherwise still in tact.
Litter and diversions officer at Wodonga Council, Ray Scammell, was picking up dumped rubbish in a scrubby area near Felltimber Creek Road last Friday morning when he noticed some of it had blown across the other side of the road.
It was there he found the sign, sitting past a mount of dirt, and recognised it straight away.
“It was a good feeling when I went to the shop and told the people at the shop about it,” Mr Scammell said.
“If someone hadn’t dumped rubbish up there it could have been there for ages.”
The unexpected discovery has delighted the cafe’s operators, Rod and Amanda Ayton, whose customers constantly lamented how the store never looked as good as it did before.
“It’s only an old ugly sign but the amount of carry on it’s caused,” Mrs Ayton said.
“I’m so glad we’ve got it back.
“I thought it would be over someone’s bar in a shed in 10 years time.”
Most of the neon lighting originally on the sign was smashed off during the theft.
Mrs Ayton said they intended to have it restored and returned to the shop as soon as possible, although that decision will be in the hands property’s owners, David and Poppy Langlands.
Based on its condition, it doesn’t appear the sign had been out in the elements since the night it was stolen in October last year — it was probably recently dumped.
And based on it’s size and weight it would have taken at least two people to remove the sign in the first place.
The discovery has been reported to Wodonga Police.