Police bust house with over 300 stolen garden ornaments
A garden full of pot plants, gnomes and pink flamingos may seem like a pretty picture, but it could also be a snapshot of the dark world of methamphetamine dealing.
That's what Hawke's Bay police faced on Tuesday when they came across a Flaxmere property with more than 300 garden ornaments scattered around it – all stolen, and all believed to be linked to meth.
Police went to the property on Tuesday to assist a power company cutting off the house which had racked up a $10,000 power bill.
Sergeant Cam Donnison said officers quickly realised some of the colourful items splashed around the property were ornaments which had been reported missing over the past few months.
Closer inspection revealed all of the items were probably stolen.
Donnison said there was a growing trend in Hawke's Bay of people stealing garden decorations then selling, or trading them, to get money for methamphetamine.
"It was obvious straight away they were stolen. We were aware of the issue. It seems to be the fashion at the moment. They are taking these items to hock off for methamphetamine – it's all meth driven," he said.
"We are probably looking at three to four hundred different ornaments. They go all through the house as well. These are probably the result of dozens and dozens of burglaries in the last month."
It was unclear whether the owner of the property had been receiving the gnomes and statues as a payment for meth, or if they had been buying them.
What was clear, Donnison said, was the person knew they were receiving stolen goods because they had painted some of the items to disguise them.
The massive find came less than a week after Hawke's Bay police appealed publicly for information into the growing problem of garden items being nicked.
"This is certainly organised and targeted burglaries to steal items which are worth quite a bit of money," he said.
"The perpetrators are stealing them to get rid of them easily, and quickly satisfy their methamphetamine addictions."
It was not uncommon for people to be getting upwards of $300 for large pot plants, Donnison said.
"Some aren't worth a lot of money, but have been passed down by family members, so it's sad."
Donnison said the growing trend was strange.
"Certainly the trend of stealing garden ornaments and where they are going is quite unusual of late ... Usually the theft of ornaments is linked to drunken hijinx or young people having pranks."
Detectives would be reaching out to the public over the coming days to try and return the items to their rightful homes.
No charges had yet been laid in relation to the stolen items, but inquires would be taking place, Donnison said.