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Man, they should have ran! Removalists taken for burglars

Removalists detained … for removing possessions. Crikey intern Yolanda Redrup interviews the boss of the two workers accidentally taken for burglars in Melbourne yesterday.

So what do you do if you see some removalists, in removalists’ t-shirts, loading goods into a clearly marked removalists’ van? Why, you call the police of course! These burglars must be stopped.

This happened to workers from the company Man With a Van in Melbourne yesterday — and company director Tim Bishop is not impressed that Victoria Police pulled guns on his innocent young workers, pinned them to the ground and cuffed them.

Bishop told his story to Crikey today in the hopes of avoiding a repeat of the dramatic incident, which happened when his staff had loaded up their van for a female customer and were driving on St Kilda Road around 8.20am yesterday.

A cop car pulled in front of all of the traffic so no one could move, then made their way towards the van,” Bishop told Crikey.

The boys were amused and thought ‘wonder what they’re up to, maybe it’s the customer?’ Until the first policeman pulled out his gun and pointed it at one of them and ordered them to ‘get out of the van and get on the ground’. They then proceeded to cuff the boys with a knee in the back. The boys were lain on the ground next to their van while the police spoke to the customer, who wasn’t cuffed at that stage (she was later). The boys were eventually rolled onto their sides and left there for a bit, then searched.

After that, one of the plain-clothed police spoke to them and asked if they knew what was going on. One of the boys told him to look at the job sheet indicating who we were, the customer’s details, etc. One of the boys asked if the police could stop a bystander taking photos and was ignored.”

A spokeswoman for Victoria Police said the police were responding to a call from the customer’s neighbour who believed the men were stealing the woman’s possessions. The police had contacted the owner of the property who had said they were away on holidays, but had someone house sitting.

The scene attracted the attention of many passersby, with some shutterbugs stopping to take photos. Some witnesses tweeted what they saw. One Twitter user tweeted: “@ManWithAVan Thug Life! I love you guys. I’ll write you songs while you’re in the big house.”

After the ordeal, Bishop said his staff were sent for “a cup of tea and a quick lie down”. At first, he said, he had thought it was a kind of joke. ”We’ve tried to be as light hearted as we can about it, but we wouldn’t have been quite so lighted-hearted had we known the full extent of what had happened,” he said. “It wasn’t until the guys came back that we discovered they had a firearm pulled on them.”

Understandably shaken, the two workers are taking the day off today to consider their next course of action. ”The men are lying low and considering whether they want to take legal action and what their position is,” Bishop said.

The customer said in a statement: “It was certainly not the welcome to Melbourne I was expecting.”

At the time of publication, Victoria Police had not issued an official apology to Man With A Van. Police confirmed no one had been charged in the incident.

7
  • 1
    klewso
    Posted Friday, 2 November 2012 at 2:06 pm | Permalink

    They’re lucky they weren’t shot for good measure.

  • 2
    Andrew McMillen
    Posted Friday, 2 November 2012 at 2:10 pm | Permalink

    This is concerning. Thanks for reporting, Crikey.

  • 3
    Maybury James
    Posted Friday, 2 November 2012 at 4:05 pm | Permalink

    Surely it should be: “they should have run!”
    not “ran”?

  • 4
    mikeb
    Posted Friday, 2 November 2012 at 5:00 pm | Permalink

    Hmm - I can understand the neighbours concern but have the Vic Police been watching too much American TV? Since when do you pull a gun and cuff people without asking a few questions first? If they aren’t resisting tyhen just take the keys.

  • 5
    Peter Calder
    Posted Friday, 2 November 2012 at 6:51 pm | Permalink

    Ok hang on a minute.

    The owner of the property was away on holidays and had someone house sitting… this means that the customer was the house sitter? If you’re house sitting, you don’t go moving stuff out. You live there with the stuff that’s in the house.

    This potentially means that the house sitter _was_ ripping the joint off, and the Man In A Van boys were just pawns.

    If that’s the case, fair call getting the cops involved, but it’s NOT acceptable to pull firearms on two unarmed guys who were just doing their job.

    I say haul the uniformed cops before a disciplinary tribunal, and have this noted in their service record. We don’t live in the US. That style of policing is not appropriate. Yet. There is still a presumption of innocence until proven guilty, is there not?

  • 6
    Were Rat
    Posted Saturday, 3 November 2012 at 10:14 pm | Permalink

    Pretty daft. Problem is when you pull out a gun occasionally things go wrong and someone ends up dead. Wise cops know to ask questions first.

  • 7
    bruce cantieni
    Posted Monday, 5 November 2012 at 10:57 pm | Permalink

    Lucky the removalists did not meet the same group of sadistic cops the Brazilian student met. Ten police surround the victem empty 2 and 1/2 half cans of capsican on a handcuffed victen then repeatably zap him till he dies

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