Clock finds way back to owner

23:24, May 14 2014
Stolen clock
FINALLY FOUND: Geoff Foote, right, is delighted to have his clock returned 13 years after it was stolen, thanks to the help of clockmaker Theron Greasley.

A clever clockmaker turned detective has reunited Aucklander Geoff Foote with a 144-year-old family heirloom stolen 11 years ago.

It was a bit of an emotional moment on Tuesday when Foote collected the $7000 clock that once belonged to his grandparents and aunt.

"I never thought I would see it again," he says.

SPECIAL TICKER: The clock was made in France during the 1870s for a Japanese market and features a hand-painted scene. Clock Clinic’s Theron Greasley believe it’s worth around $7000.

The ornate antique clock was taken, along with other items, from Foote's home in 2003.

 "We had insurance for the contents but I wanted the clock back, not a payout," Foote says.

He waited five years to see if the clock would be recovered and then decided to replace it with something similar.


He emailed a photo of the missing piece to numerous clockmakers, including Theron Greasley at the Clock Clinic in Whangaparaoa, north of Auckland.

Greasley was the only one who responded and had some contacts in Australia who helped find a replacement from the same 1870s era.

But the story doesn't end there.

Greasley remembered the case last month when a customer came into his shop and asked for repairs to a clock that looked strikingly familiar.

"I sent Geoff an email saying I had a clock come in that looked a lot like his. Geoff asked if there was something written on the bottom in pencil, and sure enough there was."

Police visited the customer's address and spoke with the man who said he got the clock from a West Auckland scrap metal dealer.

Greasley says the clock, which is now back with its original owner, needs some work but it is still in relatively good condition.

Foote is thrilled to get it back.

"I always held on to some hope it would be returned. I have always been interested in clocks, but this one was special. 

Rodney Times