A thief broke into a family home near Queenstown twice in the same day - once to steal and the second time to say sorry.
The unknown offender struck first while homeowner Graeme Glass was at work on Tuesday, smashing a window at his Arthurs Pt home to gain entry and stealing a $1200 laptop, a camera and a wallet containing his American Express credit card.
The second intrusion came later the same day, when the burglar - apparently racked by guilt - decided to return the goods, as well as a basketball and two pairs of gloves bought using Mr Glass' credit card in nearby Queenstown.
Mr Glass and wife Shirley realised their house had been robbed only when they returned home from work on Tuesday night to find the loot piled on the kitchen table.
To top it off, there was a full-page note from the offender saying sorry.
The apology, written on a page of Mr Glass' diary, expressed sorrow for "violating the safety and security of your home".
The offender said he did not want to go to jail but understood if Mr Glass wanted to seek "proper justice", in which case he should "ask around your neighbourhood.
Someone will have seen me, and from there I'm certain you will find me".
In the meantime, the offender promised to leave cash in Mr Glass' letterbox to pay for the smashed window "when I have enough money".
"I have never written truer words when I say that I wish that I had never done this to you and your family," the note read. "From the bottom of my heart I am sorry."
Yesterday, Mr Glass - who works at AJ Hackett's Kawarau Bridge bungy and is president of the New Zealand Ice Hockey Federation - said it was difficult to accept the apology, although he was more "bewildered" than angry.
"I was running around trying to find the broken window," he said.
"The place had not been ransacked.
"They had just gone upstairs to the bedroom where the wallet was. It was all pretty bizarre, really."
While Mr Glass was grateful his property had been returned, he said replacing the window had cost $100 and he had been forced to cancel his credit card and apply for a new one.
The card had been used at three stores that day, with his signature forged each time, before it was returned.
"This person might have been committing a lot of burglaries around the place and just felt guilty about us," he said. "Who knows what else they have been up to?"
The transactions on his American Express card had been traced and staff at the stores had provided a description to the police, Mr Glass said.
Constable Julian Cahill of the Queenstown police said the burglar's change of heart would be taken into account by police.
"We consider everything but it would help a bit more if he came into us," Mr Cahill said.
He said he has never heard of a burglar breaking into a house, stealing property and then returning it in the same day.
The man police are looking for is believed to be a local and living in the Arthur's Point area, Mr Cahill said.
He has shoulder length blond hair, about 165cm tall, of slim build and in his late teens or early twenties, he said.
- OTAGO DAILY TIMES, NZ HERALD STAFF