'Scum' stole veteran's souvenirs

Dan Keno
Dan Keno
A 94-year-old World War 2 veteran who was held down by burglars in Oamaru while they stole 1940s keepsakes from his home on Tuesday was yesterday said to be ''tearful''.

Police investigating the incident are asking people to be on the lookout for 1940s and 1950s items thought to have been stolen while intruders held the man down during a night-time raid on his home.

After a public appeal, new information had come to light, Detective Sergeant Dan Keno, of Oamaru, said.

''At this stage, we have spoken to several people who have given us further inquiries to undertake as a result of some of the things they have told us.''

The man had served in World War 2 and extensively overseas post-war, Det Sgt Keno said.

After the war, he returned overseas ''to assist as a grave-digger in cemeteries related to servicemen''. He had travelled to many different places and had mementos, gathered from the 1940s, from all over the world.

Police would like to hear from anyone offered such items, some of which were ''distinctive''. No medals had been taken. He urged anyone with knowledge of the incident to contact police.

''Or if they find anything that's foreign to their property, that looks like it's been thrown over the fence or something, to contact us as well.''

Police were awaiting results of forensic tests which could provide more information, he said.

Police were yesterday still unwilling to reveal the location of the burglary, but said the man was being helped by Victim Support and Age Concern.

Age Concern Waitaki co-ordinator Wayne Stringer said the man, who fought at the battle of Monte Cassino, was yesterday ''very tearful''.

The victim had no family to call on, but he had ''heaps of support'' from Age Concern and neighbours, Mr Stringer said.

''It's sort of just shot home to him today, but he's got some really, really caring neighbours and a really caring community, so we're looking after him.

''To be honest, the community has really rallied around him.''

North Otago RSA president Ian McKay said he had no respect for the offenders.

''They really are scum. They are people that destroy monuments and take memorabilia that doesn't belong to them. They really aren't citizens of Oamaru, they're really not.''

The RSA would gladly provide any assistance the man needed.

- andrew.ashton@odt.co.nz

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