During the 1940s, publicans were experiencing unprecedented theft of beer glasses from their pubs.
One newspaper reported more than 7,00,000 glasses disappeared from Sydney’s 600 metropolitan hotels in 1944, “In an amazing wave of petty thieving”.
Hotels lost an average of 60 glasses a week! The licensee of a Melbourne hotel said in 1945 petty thefts, mostly of 7oz. glasses, had cost him £470 over the last two years.
During the 1949 Royal Easter Show, one publican who had the license for the “showground liquor bar”, reported that over the eight days of the show he had lost more than 190,000 beer glasses through theft or breakages. More had been stolen than broken, the publican, A.E Preston said.
The problem of beer glass theft was also a problem in the Illawarra. The Illawarra Mercury reported on April 29 1948:
HOTEL GLASSES DISAPPEAR
Since the beer strike about six dozen glasses, similar to whiskey glasses, have been stolen from the Family Hotel, Bulli, a police constable alleged at the Bulli Court of Petty Sessions last week. He was Const. A. L. Holland, who gave evidence in a charge against Raymond Francis John Dwyer (19), factory hand, of having in his custody at Bulli,on April 17, one whiskey glass which might reasonably be suspected of being stolen or unlawfully obtained. Dwyer was also charged with using indecent language on the same date. He pleaded guilty to both charges. Const. Holland stated he heard defendant use the language complained of in the bar of the Bulli Family Hotel. He said defendant had been drinking, and he later found the whiskey glass in defendant’s coat pocket. He said that when questioned, Dwyer replied: ‘A fellow gave it to me in the, hotel. I don’t know his name ;- he just gave it to me and I put it in my pocket.’ Constable Holland said he had known Dwyer for five years. He was a youth of good character, who drank a little, but not very much. ‘The drinking of wine and rum probably caused him to do this,’ he added. Mr. E. J. Etherton, S.M., fined Dwyer £2 in default four days’ hard labour on each charge.
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