A Birmingham-based sandwich firm has returned to court for using equipment that doesn’t belong to it after promising last year that it would not repeat the offence.
Authentic Bite was caught using bread baskets belonging to Bakers Basco to transport its sandwiches without permission and now faces a total legal bill worth nearly £15,000.
The sandwich firm’s latest misdemeanour has landed it with costs and damages of £6,000, adding to the £8,700 it was forced to pay out for two earlier incidents. It has also been made the subject of a Restraining Injunction.
At a hearing in the County Court in July last year, Authentic Bite made a legally binding promise not to use Bakers Basco’s baskets and dollies without authorisation. The sandwich firm already had a track record of taking the bread equipment company’s items to transport its own products from its Midlands base to London.
In the latest court hearing, which took place in Walsall last month, a judge considered evidence relating to multiple breaches of the Injunction since last July, and also to obstructive and provocative behaviour to Bakers Basco staff trying to reclaim the equipment company’s property.
The July 2016 court case saw Bakers Basco introduce evidence gathered from GPS tracking technology, including a movement log and an aerial satellite plot showing Bakers Basco equipment being moved around the defendant’s premises over a 24-day period, from the production line through despatch and then outside to the loading area.
Steve Millward, general manager of Bakers Basco, said: “We have no intention of allowing people to repeatedly take our equipment without consent, or trying to obstruct or intimidate our staff when they try to reclaim it. In instances like this, we will pursue the matter through the courts. It would have been a lot cheaper for Authentic Bite if they had just bought their own baskets.”
Millward added: “If people use our equipment without permission, that’s a kind of theft, in our eyes. And anyone who says it’s a ‘victimless crime’ couldn’t be more wrong – the bakeries that pay to license our equipment, the retailers that sell their products and the shoppers who rely on them for their daily bread all end up paying extra for the actions of a small number of thoughtless, selfish, greedy people.”
Bakers Basco is a company set up to manage and licence a pool of bread baskets and dollies for the use of bakers.
This allows for sharing of costs, a common design which optimises space in delivery vehicles (hence reducing ‘food miles’) and a reduction in waste from disposable packaging ending up in landfill. Currently, around 25 bakeries, ranging from small to very large, are licensed to use the equipment.
Basco has a National team of Officers who have conducted thousands of visits to many different locations, but it claims there are many more locations still to be checked.
Bakers Basco bread baskets and dollies are clearly marked as the company’s property. When it becomes aware that its equipment is being used without permission, it politely asks for its return and in the vast majority of cases companies obliges.
However, officers sometimes have to issue Recovery Charges to recover the costs of tracing, recovering and sterilising misappropriated equipment, which the firm claims costs the industry “eye-watering sums” each year.
In a very small number of cases where companies hold on to Bakers Basco’s property after being asked to return it, or where they are repeat offenders, Bakers Basco will take legal action.
In 2015, Bakers Basco introduced GPS technology to help in its fight against the theft and abuse of bread baskets from its baker network. It regularly upgrades its tracking devices, and the technology has significantly reduced losses and improved recovery levels by the special tactical team which is dedicated to finding and reclaiming missing equipment.
Only last month, Bakers Basco announced a major victory in the fight against equipment theft, with a significant number of stolen items tracked from a client’s premises in Birmingham to a plastics recycler in Shropshire. Bakers Basco called in the police and attended the Shropshire site accompanied by officers, where they discovered a substantial amount of equipment, worth thousands of pounds. Further visits recovered yet more equipment in Birmingham.
The owner of the Shropshire plastics recycling site was served with appropriate documentation and a charge for the location and recovery of the equipment. After failing to respond, matters were escalated and culminated in a County Court Judgment for more than £6,000, representing the original amount plus interest and court costs.
Bakers Basco’s recovery team is now working with different police forces to pursue the various people involved in stealing the company’s property through the courts.
Bakers Basco was set up by five of the UK’s leading plant bakers in 2006 to buy, manage and police the use of a standard basket for the delivery of bread to retailers and wholesalers. The company currently manages a pool of approximately four million Omega Baskets and dollies, which are used by around 25 bakers including Allied Bakeries, Fine Lady Bakeries, Frank Roberts & Sons, Hovis and Warburtons to deliver bread to their customers.