How 5c helped meter thief beat charges worth $167k
A PARKING meter bandit has beaten scores of theft charges worth $167,000 thanks to a humble 5c coin.
Slavko Kalic was caught red-handed stealing from city meters and depositing thousands of coins at the bank.
The unusual deposits sparked an investigation that placed him under surveillance in a sting operation, during which he made hundreds of trips to his bank.
But prosecutors at Melbourne Magistrates Court on Thursday dropped more than 50 theft charges.
The reason, the court heard, was simple: parking meters don't accept 5c pieces.
His lawyer, George Balot, said prosecutors had to reconsider the evidence and had agreed any charge concerning a deposit ending in a 5c denomination would be dropped.
Kalic argued any of the deposits ending in 5c were legitimate transactions from an amusement game company he ran, and could not have been from the parking meters.
After those charges were dropped, Kalic pleaded guilty to 218 charges of theft totalling $172,000 and two charges of dealing with property suspected to be the proceeds of crime.
It is not known how much was actually stolen during Kalic's six-year crime spree, with no way of knowing what was taken from each meter.
Kalic was carrying out maintenance and repair works on meters for the City of Melbourne council-run company Citywide when he was arrested last November.
He was not authorised to access the coin cash boxes that could each hold more than $1000 in gold coins.
Citywide started an internal investigation after some parking meters were found to have much less cash than expected.
Surveillance carried out between September and November caught Kalic removing cashboxes and emptying them into a work van.
He opened a bank account in 2011 and marked the first transfer as "coin collection".
Kalic made more than 200 trips to the bank, depositing thousands of coins at a time, before his amateur scam was uncovered.
On some days he made multiple trips, depositing up to $3000 at a time.
Meters near the Royal Children's Hospital and the Shrine of Remembrance were among those to have been emptied of gold coins.
Kalic made partial admissions to police after his arrest and a subsequent search of his home and work car found more than $2000 in coins.
Kalic will next appear at the County Court for a pre-sentence hearing in March.