Plumber angry after thieves take letterbox from Wooragee home

HELP: Dave McAuliffe has been forced to put his old letterbox back to use after thieves took off with his new letterbox from the front of his home. Picture: JAMES WILTSHIRE

HELP: Dave McAuliffe has been forced to put his old letterbox back to use after thieves took off with his new letterbox from the front of his home. Picture: JAMES WILTSHIRE

A UNIQUE letterbox made by a renowned sculptor has been stolen from a home in Wooragee.

Dave McAuliffe had commissioned award-winning Yackandandah sculptor Benjamin Gilbert to create the metal letterbox about four months ago.  

The distinctive piece, which depicts a water drop pouring out of a tap, was stolen from the front of Mr McAuliffe’s home on the Beechworth-Wodonga Road on Friday night.

Because it weighs an estimated 80 to 100 kilograms, Mr McAuliffe believes at least three or four people would have been needed to take it.

“It’s fairly valuable,” he said.

“I don’t want to go into the cost of it, but it’s valuable and quite a well-known letterbox.

“It’s only been there for a month or two.”

Mr McAuliffe believes the letterbox was stolen between 9pm and 10.30pm, with reports a tradesman’s utility had been seen nearby.

Several letterboxes were stolen in the area on Friday night.

“They would needed to have spent about 20 minutes to get it out,” he said.

“You wouldn’t be able to fit it inside a car.

“It was disappointing because we had finished the new house and the mailbox was the final piece.

“It gives you the impression that you’ve got a home rather than a house.

“It feels like we haven’t finished the house.”

The mailbox was popular with passing motorists, with many stopping to pose for photographs.

Mr McAuliffe has turned to social media in a bid for information. 

“A lot of the locals commented on how good it was,” he said.

“Many people have said they’re disappointed it was stolen because they loved it.

“I think the thieves are lowlifes, it’s a piece of Ben Gilbert’s art on show and they have pinched it.”

Mr McAuliffe had the 1.7 metre tall piece commissioned after providing plumbing services for one of Mr Gilbert’s projects.

“I like his artwork,” he said.

“He’s very well known, he’s internationally acclaimed.”

Mr Gilbert, who works out of a studio on Back Creek Road in Yackandandah, has won several awards for his work and has been featured on the Grand Designs Australia TV show.

It’s the third time one of his creations has been stolen, with sculptures targeted in Epping and Hay.

“It’s a really odd thing to take because it’s going to stick out,” Mr Gilbert said.

“As you drove from Wodonga to Beechworth it revealed itself slowly and the drip reflected the light nicely, especially in the afternoon. 

“It’s a great shame it’s been stolen.”

The work took about 20 hours to create and used a unique fabrication technique.

“I guess it’s a bit of a trophy,” Mr Gilbert said.

“It was concreted into the ground so they must have been prepared.”

Anyone with information can contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.