Winery a pawn in thieves’ strike

IT was checkmate for a Wahgunyah winery with some of its novelty chess pieces stolen from its front lawn last week.

Cofield Wines cellar door manager Bec Simpson said the chess set had adorned the winery’s lawn for five years and this was the second theft of pieces in the past three months.

That was until sometime between 5.30pm Thursday and 9am Friday when four pieces were stolen — a white bishop, a queen, a king and a black pawn.

Mrs Simpson said the crime was “disheartening” because it would cost more than $100 to replace each piece.

“They’ve taken away trust and we now need to look at our security,” she said.

“It’s not very nice now that you look out at everyone on the lawn and see that it is incomplete.

“We now can’t give our visitors the best experience possible.”

Mrs Simpson said she had been upset by the look on the faces of two boys on Friday when they asked her where was the rest of the set.

“A lot of people know Cofield for the big red umbrellas and, of course, the chess set,” she said.

Rutherglen’s Sgt Brian Curran said it was hard to know why someone would steal the pieces.

“I think it’s just stupidity and a disregard for other people’s property,” Sgt Curran said.

“The set is a great entertainment for visitors to the winery.

“The pieces are of no use to anyone else.”

It’s the second theft of chess pieces — two other pieces were stolen three months ago.

Mrs Simpson said the winery had lost more than their chess pieces.

“We’ve lost our faith,” she said.

“We leave out personal belongings in good faith believing people will respect them.”

She, too, could not understand why anybody would steal them.

“I wonder whether there is more activity in the area or the thieves are people who just want a souvenir,” she said.

Sgt Curran called for anyone with information to contact the police at Rutherglen.

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