100-year-old heirlooms swiped in Thames burglary


Carol and Alan Way came home from holiday to find their home had been broken into. Family heirlooms missing being the most upsetting of all.

A century of history and priceless heirlooms belonging to a Coromandel family have been wiped out by burglars. 

A group of two to three people are believed to be behind the daylight burglary of the Thames home belonging to Carol and Alan Way. 

Thieves went through very room, drunk juice from the fridge, and smashed down the locked Rimu door of the couple's bedroom to swipe family jewellery and heirlooms dating back four generations. 

Carol and Alan in their Thames home with a photo of family who handed down heirlooms.
Rebekah Parsons-King/Fairfax NZ

Carol and Alan in their Thames home with a photo of family who handed down heirlooms.

"I am absolutely devastated, even the cameo brooch I wore at my mother's funeral is gone, everything has a memory to them."

Way believes the burglary happened sometime before lunchtime on Monday when the culprits managed to force their way into the home.

The couple were out at work all day when Alan arrived home just after 4pm to find the house almost cleaned out.

"They had been through everything, but hadn't smashed stuff. The draws were left open."

Neighbours came across belongings stolen from the Cook St house strewn over the nearby railway lines.

Memorabilia from 'Moody's Milkbar' - the store Carol's father set up in Thames in 1947 - were taken along with heirlooms belonging to three generations of family who lived in the Coromandel town.

"An old-fashioned tin with racing horses on the front, I have never seen one anywhere else, I used to play with it as a child and my kids played with it."

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Gone are the etched Fob watch engraved with Carol's great grandmother's initials and a waist coat chain with quartz pendant from her great grandfather's collection.

"It had his name engraved on it - MJ McLaughlin. It's the good jewellery with the history attached to it that's hurting me."

Among other items, a life honorary medal from Thames Trotting Club belonging to her great grandfather, a stack of Kathmandu jackets, camera and cash for the Lotto syndicate.

Carol was 17-years-old when she inherited the items after her mother passed away. 

"My mother would be 96 if she was alive, so these are well over 100 years old. To be honest it's not the money, it's the story and history, replacing them isn't going to help the situation."

The couple started locking their bedroom door after a previous break-in 10 years ago but even that didn't keep the thieves out.

"We had our bedroom door locked and they have smashed all the framework to get into the bedroom, which is where all the jewellery was, police believe it was brute force."

She believes the thieves must have been in the house long enough to rummage through each room, loading items into bags and even hunting down a vintage bottle of homebrew brandy. A half drunk carton of apple juice from the fridge was found strewn by the creek. 

"Luckily they haven't found my father's medals, he was also a gold star man from the fire brigade."

Carol is "angry and shattered" at the theft and has issued a desperate plea for the return of the heirlooms.

"You go to work and this is what happens to you."

Thames police Sergeant Russell Richards said police believed those responsible were local and had received a report of a group of two or three people acting suspiciously around the area. 

"We need more information, and we need people to come to police with that information as well as posting it on Facebook."

He said police had fingerprinted and were appealing for anyone who had seen anyone acting suspiciously, or who may have information to contact Thames police on 07 867 9600.

 - Stuff

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