Warrnambool celebrity Phil Hoye has watched in shock as brazen thieves stole his work ute just eight months after the theft of his trademark hat.
Mr Hoye is the owner of Country to Coast Painting and is well-known for his appearance in a video with local artist Jimmi Buscombe, who painted the Warrnambool wombat on the Otway Road bridge. The video went viral in August last year and has had more than 50 million views.
Mr Hoye said he woke at 7.20am on Monday to see the wheels on his red Nissan dual cab utility spinning.
"I opened the garage door and I saw the ute just take off," he said.
"At first I thought it might have been one of my employees having a bit of a joke but then the ute nearly hit an oncoming car on Flaxman Street. I went into shock and thought, someone has just stolen my ute."
It is the second burglary in eight months after thieves broke into Mr Hoye's garage in October and stole his trademark hat, $500 and a pack cigarettes.
Mr Hoye said the ute was full of tools but wasn't sure of the total value.
"It's only when I go to use something for work that I realise it's another thing that's been stolen," he said.
"In the last burglary I didn't care much about the stolen money but this is my livelihood that I've just seen someone driven off with."
Mr Hoye was at home with his wife Katrina and sons Darcy, 13 and Charlie, 11 at the time of the break-in.
He said the thieves appeared to have jumped over the back fence and broken into the garage before grabbing the keys to the vehicle.
"I think that is what has freaked me out the most," he said.
"This is usually a good neighbourhood. I've got a neighbour that is the best part of 90. The whole thing has just spun me out to be honest."
Mr Hoye said Katrina rang the police who arrived a short time after in a crime investigation van.
"They were really quick to arrive and did a really good look around," he said.
"They were looking through the garden and I'd actually been out the night before with a mate at Dirty Angel Comedy, I'd had a few beers so my stomach was a bit upset and I had a bit of a spew where the gate was.
"They thought it might have been the thief so they went to DNA it and I had to tell them that it was actually mine.
"I guess you've got to look at the funny side of it. But I tell you what, I swear I'm jinxed."
Warrnambool police Sergeant Ben Timpson said the stolen red Nissan dual cab utility was sighted driving erratically on Flaxmann Street about 7.30am.
He said investigations were ongoing.
* Police confirmed late on Wednesday the vehicle had been recovered in Doncaster's Kingsnorth Street. A police spokesman said it would be towed and examined by crime scene services. Anyone with information should contact Warrnambool police on 5560 1333 or Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.
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