A Tauranga teen is preparing to compete in the Youth Olympic Games next week using borrowed gear after her $3000 windsurfing kit was stolen.
Coral Headey's custom-fitted gear was in her mother's car when the car was stolen from a petrol station on Friday night.
The theft was just one of a spate of car thefts from Tauranga petrol stations last week. Ms Headey's car was recovered by police on Sunday and returned to her but the gear was gone. "It was unbelievably devastating ... I couldn't stop crying ... I just stood there and thought, 'what am I going to tell my daughter?'," Ms Headey said.
"It's one of those scenarios where the gear is so specific so anyone can't just pick it up and use it ... they won't have much use out of it ... but it's so valuable to us."
The sail is covered in identifiable stickers meaning it would be hard for someone to sell on, she said. "We just want to appeal respectfully and humbly to the individuals who have got our gear to please give it back."
Coral's gear was hired, rented or donated as the family could not afford to buy it new so it would be an extra expense for them to pay back if not returned, she said. With one week until Coral flew out to represent New Zealand at the Youth Olympics, the plea for the gear was desperate.
Tauranga police Senior Sergeant Rob Glencross said a police team was still working to recover the other stolen vehicles as well as property associated with all four cars. "Police never like to see someone become the victim of a crime but it is easier to use security features and prevent yourself from becoming the victim than trying to recover property after it has happened," he said.
Anyone with information about the windsurfing gear was encouraged to contact Tauranga police. A 46-year-old man was arrested on Sunday and appeared in Tauranga District Court on Monday charged with unlawful taking of four motor vehicles from Tauranga.