Wimmera defaulters targeted: The Sheriff's Office cracks down on unpaid fines

THE Sheriff’s Office has cracked down on 84 of the Wimmera’s most wanted defaulters.

A Warracknabeal man owing more than $28,000 has been arrested and bailed to appear in Hopetoun Magistrate’s Court.

He has 106 outstanding warrants to his name.

A Watchem woman with 82 warrants, amounting to almost $24,000, was arrested and bailed to St Arnaud Magistrate’s Court. 

The total sum of money owing by the 84 defaulters is $215,784.

It comes as a report released on Friday by the Sentencing Advisory Council revealed about 40 per cent of Victorians and 36 per cent of companies failed to pay court fines.

More than 700,000 fines issued by police and local governments go unpaid each year.

Victorian Sheriff Brendan Facey said the operation last month targeted the 100 highest-owing people in the Warracknabeal area.

Sheriff’s officers and police doorknocked each person’s house and scoured the town’s streets for information.

“People are liable for their outstanding infringements and continuing to ignore them will not make them go away,” Mr Facey said.

Sheriff’s officers are entitled to confiscate assets, suspend drivers licences, clamp vehicles, seize property and arrest people.

Mr Facey urged people not to let it get to that stage.

“We don’t want to seize people’s cars and assets, we want people to speak with us about their options before they are caught,” he said. 

Horsham Rural City Council chief executive Peter Brown said there were 613 outstanding penalty infringement notices in the municipality amounting to more than $120,000.

“The fines total about $65,000 and costs amount to about $55,000,” Mr Brown said. He said most of the fines council issued were for parking offences.

But pet ownership-related infringements and littering were also prominent.

“We issue about 2000 parking fines a year,” he said.

“The importance of the parking officer is to ensure people obey the parking restrictions and move on, so other people can occupy those spots.”

As the state’s Sheriff, Mr Facey said people concerned about outstanding fines could call 1300 SHERIFF and speak to someone about their options.

He said people could also pay outstanding fines online at www.fines.vic.gov.au or contact Horsham Justice Service Centre by calling 4344 1444 or visiting Level 2, 21 McLachlan Street.

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