THE long arm of the law flexed its muscle in Ballarat yesterday when the Sheriff of Victoria, Brendan Facey, rode into town.
Mr Facey joined other sheriff’s officers in Norman Street during the latest operation to target people with outstanding fines.
He said sheriffs were tasked with taking action against people who did not comply with their debt-related court orders, and had powers to confiscate property or suspend a drivers licence.
“The warrants will follow you around,” he said.
“With access to new number plate recognition technology, we’re much more effective at being in more places than we’ve even been before.
“This is a reminder to people that the Sheriff’s Office is working around the clock to recover outstanding warrants.”
With the help of an automatic number plate recognition van in Norman Street, yesterday’s operation identified 28 people with 223 outstanding warrants valued at $92,311.70.
One person owing $35,000 paid more than $13,000 of the money he owed to avoid arrest.
More than 7000 people in the Ballarat area have outstanding warrants, collectively cowering more than $12.3 million, Mr Facey said.
“Our officers here in Ballarat are seeing too many people find themselves in financial trouble because they simply ignore speeding or parking fines,” he said.
“A small fine can quickly grow if it goes unpaid, with administration fees potentially adding hundreds of dollars to the original levy.”
Mr Facey said the Sheriff’s Office had recruited an extra 16 officers to be deployed around the state in coming months to help track down people.
He said fine evaders in regional and rural areas faced significant consequences.
“The best result for everyone is if people pay their fines when they get them.
“We don’t want to have to seize property, clamp cars or suspend drivers licences,” he said.