Gates mystery an open and shut case

18:22, Jan 12 2014
IN ONE PIECE: Alex Copland holds up the Victorian gates, which mysteriously went missing over Christmas.

When someone tells you to take what you want, it might pay to think twice before making off with something as ornate as a set of Victorian gates.

Orari couple Alex and Laurie Copland had stored the gates and decorative iron feature at their neighbour's property while waiting for a tradesman to install them in their garden.

However, the gates and feature went missing from the Muff Rd property between December 20 and January 5.

The couple reported the gates as stolen, but it now appears there was a misunderstanding.

"The farm manager was helping with the pre-Christmas cleanup of the property," Mrs Copland said.

"He told one of the workers they could 'make use' of anything lying around in the shed. Unfortunately, the worker appeared to take this offer somewhat literally and decided the gates could be of use to him."


Fortunately, the farm worker returned the gates yesterday - but not before he was stopped by the police.

"It was a comedy of errors ... someone must have noticed the gates in the back of his truck and realised they were reported stolen," Mrs Copland said.

However, she was still unsure how the farm worker managed to remove the gates in the first place.

"My husband and I tried to shift them by ourselves one day. Holy cow, they were heavy. The farm worker was either very resourceful or very strong."

The farm manager contacted the Coplands after the Herald published a story about the reported theft.

He called the worker responsible and arranged the "drop off".

"I don't think the worker realised they were our gates," Mrs Copland said.

The gates stand about 2.7 metres high and were similar to those at the Temuka Domain entrance.

The couple were waiting for earthquake repairs to be done to their home before installing them. They bought them in Christchurch and planned to make them a garden feature.

"We're just glad they're all in one piece."

The Timaru Herald