Six apple bins of allegedly stolen property seized by police in a raid on a property near Bridge Pa three years ago could be off to auction, because police can't identify the owners.

But Senior Constable Pehi Potaka, of Hawke's Bay police, says "tradies" and other victims still have the chance to get their gear back if they claim ownership and can establish it belongs to them, before police go to court to seek the forfeiture order necessary for them to dispose of the haul of mainly tools and building supplies.

The application is expected to be opposed by Peter James Gray, who was in July sentenced to three years and five months' jail for receiving over $145,000 worth of stolen property he claimed had belonged to his late grandfather, and who could get the gear back if police are unsuccessful with an application.

Police linked items including a complete kitchen assembly, power tools and hand tools to more than 50 burglaries and theft in the two years up to August 20, 2016, when they launched the raid on the rural home where Gray lived with his mother.


Following the raid, police opened up the property for queues of burglary victims to identify goods, which filled a garage or which were otherwise stored around the section, including property racked in scaffolding that had been stolen from one construction site.

Potaka said the lack of identifying marks on property still not returned to owners highlights ongoing difficulties getting stolen property back to where it belongs, and it is also impeding investigations.

"We are reminding tradies and people generally all the time," he said.

"Mark and name your tools, don't leave them in your unlocked truck overnight."

There has been an increase an increase in thefts of tools recently, with more than $10,000 worth of tools "often stolen in one go" according to Detective Stephen Leonard.

"If your tools can't be identified, we can't get them back to you and we can't hold the offenders responsible," he says.

Potaka said the continuing problem is "quite depressing".

As a result police are offering an engraving service, through appointments that can be arranged by ringing (06) 8730500.