Thieves who struck a Hobbit jeweller's home twice on International Star Wars Day stole thousands of dollars worth of movie memorabilia – including his precious stormtrooper costume.
Dallas Poll also lost a replica sword he wielded while acting as an Aragorn double in The Lord of the Rings movies, along with statues from the films, and gifts from actors and crew that had special sentimental value.
The thieves raided his Paraparaumu home on May 4 – celebrated by Star Wars fans as "May the 4th be with you".
They took a new safe containing his passport, a diamond, backup hard drives containing about 25,000 photos of family holidays, a spare key to his Audi, his iMac desktop computer, a new astrograph telescope, and four guitars, including a vintage Gibson.
"We have been well and truly done over," Mr Poll said yesterday. "They seemed to know what they were looking for."
Mr Poll, a jeweller, spent seven years in the police but over the past decade has worked mostly as a prop maker on The Lord of the Rings, King Kong, the Narnia films and Avatar.
His boarder called him about 4pm on Friday to say the house had been burgled and that a wide-screen TV had been stolen.
He told her to ring police and drove home from Miramar to Paraparaumu, dropping his daughter off with a friend. When he arrived home he found boxes in the garage, bedrooms and wardrobes ripped apart, and the house trashed.
The helmet of his precious white Star Wars stormtrooper costume had been taken but the rest of the costume was still in its box.
He grabbed a few precious items, went to police, then drove back to Wellington to pick up his daughter. When he returned, he found the thieves had struck again, taking the rest of the stormtrooper outfit and the contents of the safe.
As a member of international Star Wars fan-based costume organisation 501st Legion, he has worn the stormtrooper costume in the Wellington Christmas parade, raised money for children's charities, visited children's hospitals and made guest appearances at children's parties.
"It is devastating. They took sentimental items – a lot of personal stuff I really want back," he said.
"After attending hundreds of burglaries, it brings home how it feels to be a victim of this sort of crime. "To them it's probably just a job and a laugh. They probably don't give a toss, but victims, the police and I do."
Most worrying was the theft of the replica sword: "It is a concern it has got into the wrong hands – it is still a large steel sword."
He said the burglary was a wakeup call about the importance of security. He wished he had put deadlocks on his exterior doors and taken a more serious approach to security measures.
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