The celebration of an esteemed Ballarat business turned sour on Sunday morning after an "unbelievable" crime took place in broad daylight.
Skin, Ski and Surf owner John O'Neill was cleaning up in the wake of his business' 40th anniversary celebrations when his car was brazenly stolen from under his nose.
Mr O'Neill says he was within touching distance of his Commodore ute while cleaning up at St Patrick's Hall at about 9.30am, when he heard the front door shut.
The car was parked within the grounds of the St Patrick's Cathedral on Dawson Street, when somebody snuck up and got in the front seat.
The car was a considerable distance from the road when it was stolen.
Then, "like a rocket", the car took off.
"I almost tried to jump in the back, but I was glad I didn't in the end," Mr O'Neill told The Courier.
"I couldn't believe it. I was within touching distance of it the whole time."
Inside the car was a lot of treasured surfing and skating memorabilia that had been donated to Mr O'Neil in honour of his 40 years running the Bridge Mall store.
Some of it was strewn across the church grounds after falling out of the ute, while some remained in the car.
Mr O'Neill said although he was in shock at what had happened, he said it was disappointing to know how common car theft was in Ballarat.
"(The memorabilia) isn't worth anything to anybody apart from us," he said.
"Sadly, you hear of this sort of thing every second day in Ballarat."
The cars is described as a white VX Commodore ute with a a distinctive Skin, Ski and Surf sticker on the rear window.
Ballarat Police say the incident is under investigation. Any witnesses are asked to contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.
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