Thief said 'hello'

EMMA WHITTAKER
Last updated 05:00 20/02/2013
Hot Water

GOBSMACKED: Nicola Tombs can’t believe a burglar was brazen enough to steal her continous hot water system off of her house in broad daylight and in front of a witness.

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A daytime robbery has gobsmacked residents after a water heating system was stolen from a Balmoral home.

Nicola Tombs' $2500 Rheem continuous hot water system unit was taken from the side of her home last Wednesday afternoon.

The thief even said "hello" to a neighbour while taking the system.

Police say the European looking thief, thought be in his 40s, was wearing tradesmen-style clothes and witnesses assumed he was one.

Mrs Tombs noticed something was amiss in the evening when she tried to run a bath for her daughter and got only cold water.

"I thought ‘that's bizarre' but I'll wait for my husband to get home."

She was "gobsmacked" when she went into her garden and discovered the unit was missing.

"It's not immediately obvious from the road; he would have to have been in the property or have been specially looking for it.

"Never assume that just because someone looks like a workman and drives a white van that he is. I can't believe that we're the only people this has happened to.

"This guy wasn't put off by the fact that the neighbour spoke to him and if he's that brazen he has got to have done this before," Mrs Tombs says.

Auckland Master Plumbers Association president Bruce Trenwith says it is likely the unit was stolen to be used by someone else.

He says hot water cylinders and piping have long been stolen and sold as scrap metal but the units don't have much of this kind of value.

Mr Trenwith says it wouldn't take much skill to disconnect one.

"I could explain how to do it over the phone, you'd only need a couple of tools," he says.

Mr Trenwith says there are things people can do to protect themselves and their neighbours from this type of theft.

"Wearing overalls can get you anywhere, people just don't ask questions.

"Look at the finer details. If someone is running a legitimate business they will probably have their van sign written and most master plumbers do."

He says most companies will also have workers wearing uniforms.

Avondale Police Acting Senior Sergeant Tim Lockwood says there has been an upsurge in thefts of hot water cylinders and copper pipes.

"Some occupants have been at home and offenders have jumped the fence and ripped off copper downpipes," he says.

"The continuing high commodity prices for metals is a motivating factor in this type of offending."

Mr Lockwood says people should contact police if they see something suspicious and should try to gather details like descriptions of the suspects, their vehicles and registration numbers and the direction they travel.

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- © Fairfax NZ News

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