Cottesloe council brassed off with plaque theft

The spot where one of the missing brass plaques lay. Photo: Jon Bassett
The spot where one of the missing brass plaques lay. Photo: Jon Bassett

COTTESLOE council is weighing up whether to spend $9000 to replace two stolen metal plaques marking the probable landing site of Dutch explorer Willem de Vlamingh.

De Vlamingh and the crews of his three ships landed on January 5, 1697 near Cottesloe.

The two stolen plaques were installed in 1974 and 1997 on a sand dune near the Vlamingh obelisk, opposite the Empire Telegraph Station, Curtin Avenue, on Cottesloe’s southern border.

The plaques were stolen late last year.

“In November 2018, staff became aware that the plaques installed at the site had been stolen,” a report told councillors at their meeting last night.

Vlamingh was looking for a wrecked ship of the Dutch East India Company when he landed and explored the Swan River and surrounds over five days, before sailing on to Batavia in Indonesia.

The spot where one of the plaques sat. Photo: Jon Bassett

The report said it would cost the council $9000 to replace the plaques, whose theft was discovered during valuations of the council’s infrastructure conducted every three years.

“It’s an isolated location, and I’m not prepared to transfer $9000 to somewhere where they could be stolen again,” Cr Sally Pyvis said.

Cr Pyvis wanted replacements delayed until the council’s insurance company confirmed the costs for a claim for the original thefts, insuring the new plaques and any other conditions.

Chief executive May Humfrey said there would be no extra costs because of the claim.

There was no indication how the new plaques would be secured, or which material would be used, so that they would not be an attraction for thieves in the future.

Councillors agreed to defer spending the $9000 until any extra insurance costs had been determined.

Police said they have no report of the plaques being taken.