An up-and-coming young builder has been dealt a hammer blow with the theft of his work tools.
James Blackman is just one task away from becoming a qualified builder and, at 21, received second place at the esteemed Registered Master Builders Carters 2015 Apprentice of the Year competition on Friday evening.
After three years dedicated to completing his hands-on apprenticeship, the talented Raumati South local said last week's feat was dampened when his work van was broken into on Waterfall Road, Paraparaumu, on Sunday afternoon.
"I was gutted," he said.
James received the regional award in recognition of what Carters called "excellent trade and personal skills, knowledge of the building sector, and commitment to the highest standards in carpentry training".
"Someone obviously thought they needed my tools more than me."
As well as having stolen his friend's handbag, thieves managed to take off with around $2500 worth of James' self-purchased building tools, all within a 20-minute time frame.
Parked in the Waterfall Road carpark between 2.50pm and 3.10pm, his van was accessed by someone popping the lock.
"Luckily I'd cleaned most of my tools out on Saturday night, including the ones I'd won on Friday," said James, who was also a finalist in the Ryman Healthcare Young Construction Achiever of the Year 2015.
"But all the tools I'd left in the van were the ones I'm using at work at the moment, so now I can't do any work and won't get paid.
"I'll have to buy a whole new set of tools to be able to start work again."
Among the items stolen was a brand new Dewalt 18V XR 5 piece kit he had recently purchased for around $1000, unopened and with the receipt still in the bag.
Other items included a Makita nail gun, Dewalt cordless sabre saw, Dewalt cordless angle grinder, Dewalt cordless 18v torch, Dewalt 4ah 18v battery, Taurus Super Yankee tool belt, Stanley Fatmax tape, Irwin Chalk Line, reinforcing nips, fuller ruler, Stanley Antivibe hammer, Dogyu bar, Stanley combination square and nail punches.
Despite the dissapointing step back in a road that saw him place second out of nine top apprentice builders in the Wellington and Wairarapa region, James is hopeful his tools will be returned.
"Kapiti's a small place.
"It sucks, but I don't want it to get in the way of how good I was feeling about my win."