Thieves target deaf couple

By Amy McGillivray

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Mike and Fiona Pilcher didn't hear a thing when thieves cleaned out their garden shed.

The Welcome Bay couple, who are deaf, are worried they have been singled out as easy targets.

Mr Pilcher knew something was amiss when he noticed his petrol can outside the shed when he headed out to mow the lawn on Saturday.

''I said to Fiona, 'Why is the petrol can there?' And we opened up the shed and everything was gone.''

The thieves made off with more than $1000 of gardening equipment including a lawn mower, a motorised hedgetrimmer, a blower and a couple of litres of petrol as well as spades and hand gardening tools.

Some of the other tools may not have been worth much but they had sentimental value, Mr Pilcher said.

''They took a lot of Fiona's tools from her grandfather including a hand mulcher. One of my spades was my late mother's. I treasured that spade. It was a very good one.''

All the gear was insured but the couple are now struggling to pay the $300 excess to have it replaced.

''Being on the benefit and only working part-time, it's a bit hard to do. It'll take a lot of our savings.''

The couple plan to sell the shed to help pay their insurance excess.

Mr and Mrs Pilcher said they were burgled sometime between Saturday and the weekend prior.

Their neighbour, who is wheelchair bound, had his canoe stolen from his backyard about six weeks ago and the Pilchers are concerned thieves are taking advantage of those who are not as able bodied.

''We feel they might have known that we were deaf,'' Mr Pilcher said.

They have only been in their house three months and are now feeling insecure about the area they live in.

The couple were not in the habit of locking their garden shed.

''I told Fiona, 'From now on we've got to keep everything locked'. I'm too scared it will happen again,'' Mr Pilcher said.

"A lot of people we've spoken to said they've never locked their garden shed but now they are going to.''

The burglary was reported to the police, but they have no leads at this stage.

- Bay of Plenty Times

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