By JARED LYNCH, The Age
POLICE have charged a man with using power tools to cut into 15 myki machines across Melbourne, racking up a damage bill of more than $500,000.
During a four month spree, Mark Stanton Harris, 25 of Noble Park, is accused of breaking into the public transport ticket machines with demolition saws and jemmy bars to raid their cash boxes.
According to charge sheets he has stolen more than $10,000 from Kamco, the myki system’s operator.
He appeared briefly at the Melbourne Magistrates Court on Wednesday, where he sat with arms folded wearing a grey windcheater and blue jeans.
In total, Mr Harris was charged with 49 theft and criminal damage offences. His case was adjourned until July 24.
Police arrested and interviewed Mr Harris on Tuesday night, after he allegedly broke into a myki machine on the Batman Station platform in North Coburg at about 3.30am that day.
An angle grinder, cash box and coin dispenser were later found dumped on the platform.
On Saturday, Fairfax Media revealed that thieves had broken into more than 7 per cent of myki machines at railway stations.
Robbers have so far hit 40 vending machines at 29 stations, costing more than $1 million in repairs and an undisclosed sum in stolen cash.
Public Transport Victoria spokesman Adrian Darwent told Fairfax Media last week that system operator had so far paid the cost of repairing the machines, although the state would begin to pay if the bill for the damage exceeded a contractual cap. Mr Darwent declined to reveal its value, citing contractual confidentiality.
“Public transport operators and taxpayers bear the cost of fixing vandalised equipment, and since 2012 almost $1 million has been spent on repairing myki equipment,” he said.