Dozens of victims of burglary and theft dating back as far as two years have been filing through a property near Hastings identifying goods in a haul of stolen property that police estimate is worth more than $100,000.
At least 10 police staff were yesterday at the large residential property in Ngatarawa Rd, Bridge Pa, with a list of at least 40 victims who had been asked to come to the property to identify hundreds of items.
Much of it was believed to have come from construction and building sites, ranging from machinery, tools and building materials to new and still-packed kitchen and laundry appliances. One officer commented: "There's enough to build a whole new house."
Among the goods were a set of rugby tackle bags and other training items belonging to Lindisfarne College. But late yesterday, question marks hung over a number of other items around the property.
Highlighting the ongoing nature of the search, one officer wasn't dismissing the possibility a child's swing in the back yard was also stolen, saying: "The day's not over yet."
When asked if any firearms had been found, CIB Hawke's Bay area officer in charge of investigations, Detective Senior Sergeant Martin James noted there was a stun gun, ammunition, and reloading apparatus, but said: "We're still looking."
The search was sparked by an officer's instinct on a routine job on Wednesday, and a search under warrant on Thursday uncovered a new trailer and timber stolen from a Hastings firm just last week, and a shipping container and a garage full of allegedly stolen property.
Among those arriving yesterday afternoon was Garry Rothwell, operations manager of Napier firm Bay Scaffolding, who, when contacted by police, thought the stolen property they were calling about may have been a couple of hot-air guns which had disappeared from one site - "probably a month ago".
But, while "the opposition" waited nearby to start claiming their goods, he found probably randomly stolen items of his company's scaffolding pieced-together to create a storage rack for pipes and other items beneath the branches of a tree. He had two staff at the property dismantling the stand.
One woman was amazed, exclaiming as she identified items in one part of the property. "My kitchen!" she said.
Mr James said many of the victims would have given up hope of seeing their property again. While there were many items that were identifiable by marking and details previously given to police there were also items which were not easily identifiable, and some which had never been reported missing.
He said the fact that property was able to be identified and taken away by the rightful owners had highlighted the benefit of having property marked and also of reporting it stolen.
Police believe a lot of thefts go unreported because victims don't expect to benefit from insurance, but Mr James said police wanted to hear about any incidents where property was stolen.
"Thefts from construction sites especially have been a big problem for us over the last 18 months," he said. "It's had a huge impact on the construction industry."
"Don't give up," he said. "We have been looking for this property; now we've found it."
Property still held by police later yesterday included a brand new kitchen, circular saws, nail guns, timber, a set of windows, bags of plaster, more scaffolding, electrical wires and dive tanks.
A man arrested as a result of the find has been remanded in custody without plea to appear in the Hastings District Court on September 13.
Police said inquiries about recovered property can be made to the Hawke's Bay Tactical Crime Squad (ph 8730561).