A woman at the centre of a peculiar garden ornament bust has been sentenced to 40 hours community work.

Police stumbled across about 150 garden gnomes and ornaments on the afternoon of February 21 last year while assisting an inquiry about unpaid power bills at a Flaxmere address.

With values ranging from $20 to $800, the colourful collection included a flamingo ornament, garden Buddha, fisherman gnome, Maori tiki carving and a variety of pot plants.

They were identified as stolen from various addresses in Hawke's Bay between October 2016 and February 2017.


Flaxmere woman Zandria Maria Tonihi, 53, was charged with 15 counts of receiving stolen property valued under $500 and a further two charges of receiving stolen property valued between $500 and $1000.

She appeared in the Hastings District Court on December 6 where she was sentenced to 40 hours community work for five representative charges of receiving stolen property; the remaining charges having been withdrawn.

Sixteen victims had come forward to police and positively identified ornaments as belonging to them, however many remain unclaimed, and at Tonihi's sentencing an order was sought for the remaining items to be held by police or declared as Found Property.

At the time the garden collection was found, Sergeant Cam Donnison said the recovered garden ornaments appeared to have been in burglaries in previous weeks from yards and gardens.

They were organised and targeted burglaries of items that were designed to be disposed of easily, he said.

"While several of these items are expensive, most of them were not worth much money. This makes the offending even more disappointing as the items can have real sentimental value to their owners, often having been passed down by family members."

He said while some items weren't worth a lot of money, their disappearances had really impacted the owners' feeling of safety and security in local neighbourhoods.

Tonihi, a prolific shoplifter, is no stranger to the courts and clocked her 32nd shoplifting conviction in August 2011 after concealing six bottles of shampoo in her jacket at Napier's Marewa Four Square.

She had fled the shop chased by shop owner CJ Fu and then become enraged before hurling the bottles at him.

She was handed what was described an "easy" sentence by Mr Fu, who said 80 hours community work and reparation of $36 had no deterrent factor.
-Hawke's Bay Today