Antique elephant parts stolen

SIMON SMITH
Last updated 11:57 26/07/2013
Ivory

EXPENSIVE ITEM: The stolen tusk.

Elephant foot
GONE WALKABOUT: An elephant foot similar to this one was taken from an east Auckland antique shop.
Ted Waters
Simon Smith
BURGLED: The Antique Shop owner Ted Waters with two ivory African figurines similar to those taken from his Howick shop.

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Thieves have made off with $12,000 of elephant trappings - including a foot and an 80cm tusk.

The Antique Shop owner Ted Waters admits that such items are not to everyone's taste but they were were legally acquired and certified.

''As soon as you mention an elephant's foot.... I'm not going to get a lot of support on this stuff,'' the Howick resident says.

''But again it's antique. These were over 100 years old.''

''Shops like ours will have stock that you are just not going to see in the warehouse and that's the beauty of them.''

Mr Waters says his smartphone alerted him to the break-in at his Howick shop at 3.31am on July 24, and he rushed down to the store.

''When I got there I could see that front door had been smashed in and a bit of stock spewed out on the footpath.''

Mr Waters says it looks like a stolen-to-order job.

''Just in the past couple of weeks we've had a lot of interest in those pieces and we've had them for a while,'' he says.

The stolen antiques include a $1295 elephant foot and the most valuable item that could not be locked in a safe -  an $8800 elephant tusk.

''It was the sole piece that was of high value. It was always the most riskiest of the pieces.''

Other elephant ivory was also taken and includes a carved lion-headed parasol handle, two carved African heads and a number of African figurines.

The stock will not be easy to replace.

''For most retail businesses it's not a problem as they just order more from the warehouse but for us it takes years to build up.''

Sergeant Jane Field says the thieves smashed a window and ran directly to a cabinet behind the counter.

A member of the public saw two people run from the shop shortly afterwards and get into a car where a third person was waiting.

The car of interest is a silver or grey Honda Civic with black tinted windows and black deep dish mags and Ms Field wants anybody who can identify it to come forward.

Police are analysing CCTV footage from the antique shop as well as pictures from the Howick Village surveillance cameras.

Mr Waters supports plans to upgrade the Picton St cameras which are designed specifically to pick up car number plates.

He says his stock is not insured as the premiums cost too much.

''And the rigmarole that insurance companies put you through - I learnt a while ago that you pretty much have to insure yourself.''

The shop was also burgled in December and shoplifting is becoming an increasing problem.

''I should have bolstered things up more after the last time they busted through the front door, so now we are going to have to put steel in there which isn't a great look, but you just have to do it.''

Mr Waters says he also trades mammoth ivory.

''Personally if we get the opportunity to purchase mammoth ivory above elephant we take it because it's so difficult to obtain the right certificates and do it by the book.''

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All of his ivory is acquired legally with the required certificates.

''Not that some of the customers even care, but we do.''

The Department of Conservation website says a permit is required to import elephant ivory since New Zealand signed up to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Flora and Fauna in 1989.

Anybody with information can call police on 538 0327 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.

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