An air force veteran who lost his military medals to thieves may never again see his precious honours.

Gordon Ragg's medals include the distinctive gallantry award, on left.
Gordon Ragg's medals include the distinctive gallantry award, on left.

Former Royal New Zealand Air Force Wing Commander Gordon Ragg last week had his war service medals, including the Air Force Cross - a rare award for gallantry which has a distinctive red and white diagonal stripe ribbon - taken by burglars from his Auckland home.

Ragg spent 30 years as a pilot in the air force and the Auckland RSA has pleaded for the safe return of the precious items.

Militaria expert Geoffrey Oldham says it's exceptionally rare for stolen medals to be recovered.

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Mr Oldham says while the theft of historic items - including medals - is relatively frequent, the black market is smaller than people may think.

"I get notifications all the time of stuff that's gone missing, but none of it ever seems to turn up. It's hard to tell where it really goes," he said.

"It's opportunists. They just burgle some place, take some medals and don't know what to do with them once they've got them.

"Sometimes they throw them away, sometimes they flog them off, but really they hardly ever turn up."

Following the burglary, Auckland RSA urged for them to be returned to their rightful owner.

"We ask that all medal and military collectors and public watch out for these medals (they are engraved) should they come on to the market."