'Scum' stole veteran's souvenirs

By Andrew Ashton

Det Sgt Keno confirmed that the man had served in World War 2, and extensively overseas in the post-war period. Photo / File
Det Sgt Keno confirmed that the man had served in World War 2, and extensively overseas in the post-war period. Photo / File

A 94-year-old World War 2 veteran who was held down by alleged burglars in Oamaru while they stole 1940s keepsakes from his home on Tuesday was yesterday said to be "tearful".

Police investigating the incident yesterday asked people to be on the look-out for 1940s and 1950s items thought to have been stolen while intruders held the man down during a night-time raid on his home.

After a public appeal for information was made following the alleged burglary, Detective Sergeant Dan Keno, of Oamaru, said new information had come to light.

"At this stage we have spoken to several people who have given us further inquiries to undertake as a result of some of the things they have told us."

Det Sgt Keno confirmed that the man had served in World War 2, and extensively overseas in the post-war period.

"He spent several years overseas in World War 2, and then went back over there to assist as a grave-digger in cemeteries related to servicemen.

And during that period, and post-war, he travelled to lots of different places. He had mementos from all over the world related to his travels during the war period and post-war period, so that's going back to the 1940s.

"We would be interested to hear if anyone has been offered those."

Although some items were "distinctive", he confirmed that medals had not been taken.

He urged anyone with knowledge of the incident to contact police.

"Or if they find anything that's foreign to their property, that looks like it's been thrown over the fence or something, to contact us as well."

Police were also waiting on results of forensic tests which could provide more information, he said.

Police were yesterday still unwilling to reveal the location where the burglary took place, but said the man was being helped by Victim Support and Age Concern.

Age Concern Waitaki co-ordinator Wayne Stringer said the man, who fought at the battle of Monte Cassino, was yesterday "very tearful".

Mr Stringer added that the man had no family to call on.

Although he was "pretty much alone" in that sense, he had "heaps of support" from Age Concern and neighbours.

"It's sort of just shot home to him today, but he's got some really, really caring neighbours and a really caring community, so we're looking after him.

"To be honest, the community has really rallied around him."

North Otago RSA president Ian McKay said he had no respect for the culprits.

"They really are scum. They are people that destroy monuments and take memorabilia that doesn't belong to them. They really aren't citizens of Oamaru, they're really not."

Mr McKay said the man had not contacted the RSA for help, but the organisation would gladly provide any assistance if it was needed.

"Especially at Christmas-time, it's just not a nice time to have people invade your home."

- Otago Daily Times

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