Customers of James Bay Coffee and Books will notice that a store staple is missing: The pirate flag that usually hangs above the door has been stolen, says owner Kim Elizabeth Willoughby.
"It's a representation of our difference, our sense of fun and sense of theatre," Willoughby said of the missing flag.
On Monday night, staff member Kayt Mills was working on her own behind the counter when three people came into the shop and ordered complicated drinks.
Willoughby believes the skull and crossbones flag, which was sandwiched between a pane of glass and some wooden blinds, was taken while Mills's back was turned.
"We would like to get our flag back and let these people know that it's not OK to steal or play pranks," Willoughby said.
She reported the incident to Victoria police and looked at video footage from a neighbouring business that she hoped might point to a culprit. She reviewed the tape Tuesday afternoon but had no luck.
"We don't have a clear picture to tie anyone to the specific act and we can't make a leap of logic," Willoughby said.
She said her shop - which features Scrabble nights and tea-leaf readings - is known for its funky vibe and comfortable atmosphere.
"There's a lot of variety here, the romantic, artsy non-mainstream," she said.
It's this independent spirit that the flag was meant to showcase.
"I appreciate the romance of the whole pirate esthetic," Willoughby said, adding that she sometimes dons pirate apparel.
She pointed to a blackand-white photo of her great-grandfather sitting among a group of sailors aboard the HMS Bat while stationed in Cornwall, England.
"The pirate spirit comes naturally to me."