Matthew Backhouse

Matthew Backhouse is an APNZ news reporter based in Wellington.

Alleged medal thief caught out

The teenager claimed he had been taking a shower when stopped by police. Photo / Thinkstock
The teenager claimed he had been taking a shower when stopped by police. Photo / Thinkstock

An alleged medal thief who tried to cover his tracks by pretending he had been in the shower was caught out by his dry hair, police say.

Police were carrying out a routine bail check at a camping ground in Hamilton East early this morning. A 17-year-old who had been bailed there was nowhere to be found, but a short time later he came running around a corner, barefoot.

Senior Sergeant Freda Grace said the teenager claimed he had been taking a shower, rather than breaching his bail conditions.

But police didn't buy the ruse. "The man's hair wasn't wet, nor was he wearing a towel or carrying toiletries, which made our staff a bit suspicious. Giving him the benefit of the doubt they searched the shower block, but there were no personal items there either."

The teenager then tried to claim he had been confused and had actually been in the toilet block. Police searched that block as well but came up empty handed.

Ms Grace said the officers' patience was wearing thin, so they searched the area where the teen had come running from.

There they found clothing and a bag containing a New Zealand Defence Service Medal, cash, a gold watch, cufflinks, rings and a locket.

The teen denied having anything to do with the items, but police arrested him and charged him with breach of bail.

Ms Grace said the teenager was expected to face further charges when he appeared in court this afternoon.

Police today identified the victim through his medal, which had bars for territorial and national service.

However, they were yet to speak to the victim directly.

- APNZ

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