Earlier this month, Wellington musician Gordon Barrell took his dead father-in-law for one last spin in his beloved van.
On Christmas Eve, the van was stolen from outside Mr Barrell's Mornington home - along with the set of tools left to him in his father-in-law's will.
"Someone else decided to have a nice Christmas present on me," Mr Barrell said. "There's a lot of sentimental value there."
His father-in-law, Tony Shaw, had worked as a plumber, and was a well-known character in Wellington. "He was just an interesting guy. There were no wrinklies at his funeral, just young people and a lot of freaks."
After Mr Shaw died on December 1, Mr Barrell drove his coffin in his van to some of his favourite hangouts. "We took him to Bunnings for his last cruise.
"[The van] was a bit of a sentimental thing for him - and it was his hearse as well."
When the van was stolen, it contained a set of tools also inherited from Mr Shaw, and an upright bass.
"Everything was covered up inside, so someone's just come along and said, ‘Oh, I'll have that'."
Mr Barrell plays the full-size upright bass in the rockabilly band The X Ray Catz.
Although he has a spare instrument, he hoped the bass at least would be recovered, as it was painted with flame details. "It will be a pain to get rid of because it's so distinctive."
Mr Barrell estimated the stolen gear was worth $20,000. The tools and bass had been insured, but not the van.
But he was "more bummed out" about having to give up plans for a road trip of the South Island in the new year. "I'm not going on holiday now, basically."
He had alerted police to the theft.
- The Dominion Post
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