Stolen gnomes raise safety fears

DISGRACEFUL THEFT: Colleen Cheak with some of her remaining gnomes after many were taken from her property.
DISGRACEFUL THEFT: Colleen Cheak with some of her remaining gnomes after many were taken from her property.

A Regent resident is afraid for her safety after gnomes of great sentimental value were stolen from her garden while she slept.

Colleen Cheak has not had a full nights sleep since thieves stole the priceless ornaments – some taken from outside her open bedroom window – on January 16.

"They are just absolute mongrels. I hope they are haunted for the rest of their lives," she says.

Mrs Cheak and her late husband Ken had been collecting the gnomes and ornaments, including a deer, cats and frogs, for more than 15 years, many from a local artist, who has since died, or as gifts from family.

"I haven’t been able to count how many were taken but it’s about $800 worth," says Mrs Cheak.

"Most belonged to my husband who passed away late last year."

The stolen ornaments range in size from small doves to large gnomes – too big to be carried by one person.

Mrs Cheak’s son was at home on the night of the theft but did not hear anything even though an ornament was stolen from underneath his bedroom’s open window.

Mrs Cheak says her son left for work at 4am and saw a suspicious van driving past.

"They must have been disturbed because they missed quite a few gnomes," says Mrs Cheak.

She has lived at the house for two years and has had no previous trouble. Now she plans to put locks on the gates and concrete the ornaments to the ground.

"I’m scared the thieves are going to come back and take the rest," she says.

Police area commander inspector Paul Dimery says the theft of garden ornaments is very unusual.

"We did have a report of a stolen gnome that travelled the world, but not much else," says Mr Dimery.

Mrs Cheak urges anyone with information to call the police.

She’d be grateful if the thieves returned a set of white doves taken from underneath her bird bath – each bird represents a member of her family who has died.

"They don’t mean anything to the mongrels who took them. But they are irreplaceable and full of memories for me."

Whangarei Leader