Last Man Standing – an almost successful bank sting

I wrote this some time ago, and held it as a draft whilst I checked some information (no, not the location of the lap-dancing club) and had not got around to posting it – it has been sitting in my drafts folder for a while. I thought I should put it out now anyway as it is a bizarre story

FROM their headquarters at ”Teflon” Tony Vincent’s lap-dancing parlour in Market Street, members of some of the country’s most notorious crime families planned one of the most audacious bank heists.

Read more: Guilty: last man standing in $150m sting from the Sydney Morning Herald.

The first thing I should note is that I never realised that I had a lap-dancing club as a neighbour – in fact, even now, I cannot think of where it might be. Market Street tends to contain shops, office buildings, the State theatre (can’t recall any lap-dancing there at the James Blunt concert recently) and the Shelbourne Hotel. No clubs that I know of.

Still, the story itself is fascinating. Crime syndicate sets up a sting operation in conjunction with a Telstra technician to steal $150 million from JP Morgan Chase Bank by wire transfer to accounts in Greece, Switzerland and Hong Kong and is only caught out when a bank in Greece queries a $71 million transfer because “Ltd” is added to a personal account.

Now I know I need to search and read more about this – I am sure there is a screenplay in there somewhere. One of the characters in the real story is a “Mr Pink”. Interestingly, Mr Pink is also a criminal in the Quentin Tarantino film Reservoir Dogs. Our Mr Pink is not related to Quentin’s Mr Pink.

As I uncover more, I will most certainly write it up here.

Hopalong catastrophe: Sydney surrenders to northern invaders

Hopalong catastrophe: Sydney surrenders to northern invaders.

Cane Toads in Sydney … nooooo!

The Sydney Morning Herald ran an article today talking about the spread of cane toads. In particular it noted that

Steve Cope, the director of Knock-Out Pest Control, said his company had 12 call outs for toads in the Shire [Sutherland Shire Council area] since November. Last year, there wer none.

12 call-outs!

What will happen to the state of origin now? Cane Toads and Cockroaches together in Sydney.

Must be time to move to Melbourne – wonder if Cane Toads are covered under a salarycap?

The Ugliest Thing in Sydney

P3272884 In what should be one of the prettier areas of Sydney, that horrible, ugly and really quite useless contraption keeps ruining the view. The monorail is the ugliest thing in Sydney. As it passes through the city streets (Pitt Street and Market Street in particular) it ruins the preserved lines of the old buildings, making them almost invisible. When it is wet it splashes more water on pedestrians than do the city buses and as it passes across Pyrmont Bridge it just totally dominates what is a gorgeous old opening bridge.

If the state government of NSW or the Council of the City of Sydney wanted to do something permanent and lasting for Sydney they could rip this eyesore out!

The Building is Topped Out

20112009118 The building being built outside my office window has reached its final height it seems as today I noticed the tree on the top of the building. This is usually an evergreen tree and it is normally placed atop the building when the last roof beam is placed. No one is really sure where the practice came from but it does seem to trace back to early Scandinavia.

Of course, it is doubly nice as we are approaching Christmas and it is a pine tree.

Odd Sydney Traffic Signs

23072009079 Well, not so much odd but rather in this case, just plain wrong. Here is the corner of Market and York Streets in the City. Market Street is one-way traffic from Elizabeth Street to York Street, only becoming two way from York Street down to Sussex Street.

So, what is unusual I hear you say. What you can see here is the one-way part of the street and all traffic would be coming towards the camera. Of course, the traffic sign suggest something different. It says that all traffic must turn right except for buses and construction vehicles, suggesting that they can therefore travel the wrong way down the one-way section of Market Street. traffic_sign_01


Sydney’s transport behind Mumbai

The Sydney Morning Herald ran a piece today about Sydney’s transport being behind Mumbai’s. Actually, it is behind a lot of places. What I can’t understand is that the problems are fairly simple to look at and solve if you step one step backwards and look at it slightly differently.

Taxi Shortage

Have a look outside of my window – they’re all queued along Market Street and York Street 😆 no, I am being facietious. There are always a lot of them parked at Sydney Airport and given the surcharge the cab pays for the airport destination plus the cost of petrol recently, I can understand why. Simple solution, subsidise taxi petrol costs (take the tax off maybe) as well as removing any location surcharges and make it attractive for taxis to remain on the road roaming. This will also increase the number of vehicles on the road at any one time and make it more attractive for other drivers to return to public transport.


The missing metros are a problem, however, the biggest problem is that the Railways folks try to run the Sydney network as a big network. Now, given that already train trip times are longer now then they were 30 years ago, give up on that big schedule. Instead, break up the network. Have trains shuttle between Hornsby and North Sydney and Return. Shuttle between North Sydney and Central and Return. Between Central and Strathfield; Between Strathfield and Parramatta; between Parramatta and Blacktown; and between Blacktown and Penrith. A passenger wanting to travel between Wynyard and Blacktown takes a train to Central, changes there for a Stathfield train, then changes for Parramatta, and then changes again for a Blacktown train.

Do this and a delay anywhere in the network does not debilitate the entire network. It is also possible to schedule some direct trains between the “interchange” stations to speed the trips up. However, doing it this way will allow more people to be moved and a better servide to be provided. It also avoids the malarky of the new rail route from Hornsby to Epping to Chatswood and then via Strathfield back to Epping. Better to just have a few trains that shuttle between Epping and Chatswood.

So – not so much of a problem after all 🙂

Aussie Army over Sydney

Australian Army helicopter flying over Sydney
Australian Army helicopter flying over Sydney

So there I was, working away at the office today when I heard a loud noise from outside the window. On the 26th floor it is not so often that a loud noise is heard so this tends to attract your attention. Upon looking out the window, this was the sight I was greeted with. This was one of four helicopters practising repeared passes over (or more like through) the Sydney skyline. As this was the only action happening I can only assume that it was part of the Christmas spirit for Sydney. Perhaps related to Clover Moore’s big sparkler being set off.

Still, it was an unusual sight and not one that is seen very often. Nice fly-pasts from the helicopter crews although the defence machines are noisy!

New South Wales’ Counter-Terrorism Website

I discovered the other day that we New South Welshmen have our very own Counter-Terrorism website. Yep, it’s there under the New South Wales Government Gateway at I learned two things today from it. The first was that Australia has had a national counter-terrorism alert level system in place since 1978. Boy weren’t we forward thinking or was it simply a response at the time to the 13th of February 1978 bomb blast outside the Sydney Hilton when the Commonwealth Heads of Government Regional Meeting was due to take place?

The second thing I learned was that the three-level system that was implemented then (I guess that was Low, Medium and High Risk) was replaced in June 2003 with the current four-level system of low, medium, high and extreme.

Of course, the two most interesting things about that were that the level has been at medium in the over 4 years the four-level system has been in place. Guys, really, don’t you think that medium now loses some significance after the alert level’s been left at that level for so long? I mean who is going to take that seriously anymore?

The other interesting thing is that the extreme level applies when a “terrorist attack is imminent or has occurred”. I can understand extreme when one is imminent but having an extreme level after one has occurred seems a little like shutting the gate after the horse has bolted. I am sure this rates with the Australian Government’s insistence that aircraft meals into and out of Australia be served with plastic knives, which are in themselves three times more dangerous than the metal butter knives they replaced.

Cadaver Abuse

Cadaver abuse: UNSW apologises – National –

I read it and at first didn’t believe it. But then, thinking about it, it sort of made sense (not the behaviour but rather that people would do it). I guess when you are working with something all day, every day, then you take a different attitude to it. Soldiers seem to have carefree attitude to weapons, bank tellers to money.

These guys are working with the body parts all the time so it is understandable that they become desensitized to them. Well, that and the fact that they are probably nervous when they first deal with them. What follows from there is a natural progression. Not good, not right, but an understandable progression.

It really is time for some of the old moral values that used to be a part of Australian Society to be taught again, but I fear it will be a long process to eliminate these types of abuses.