Victoria Crosses stolen from museum

December 2nd, 2007  

Topic: Victoria Crosses stolen from museum

LATEST: Charles Upham's Victoria Cross and bar is among prestigious military medals stolen from the Waiouru Army Museum.
Nine Victoria Crosses, two George Crosses and other medals were stolen in the theft early today.
Museum staff discovered that several displays had been broken into, after the alarm was activated in an annex to the building sometime between midnight and 6am.
Chief of Army Major General Lou Gardiner told a press conference this afternoon that while a definitive list of the stolen medals was not available, the Victoria Cross for New Zealand medal awarded to Corporal Willie Apiata VC was not among the missing medals.
'Their theft is a theft from New Zealand and as such is a serious crime calling for the co-operation of all New Zealanders in their recovery.''
Museum executive trustee Don McIver said combined the medals could fetch "millions".
Major General Gardiner would not speculate on whether they were stolen to order, but said their value was in "what they symbolised".
Customs had been notified and had issued a border alert.
Ruapehu police area commander Steve Mastrovich said the burglary appeared to be well-planned.
"They broke in round the back through the fire escape and targeted the Alcove room where all the medals are kept and they took a select bunch of medals, particularly Victoria Crosses," he said.
"It doesn't look as if it was a spur of the moment thing."
He said it wasn't clear exactly what other medals had been taken as the crime scene had been secured until a forensics team could arrive.
"It was quite a stunning sort of offence really. It's quite amazing that anybody would target property like that, especially when you consider what the medals signify."
Police are asking anyone with information to call 0800 349 0606.
Medals taken include:
* Samuel Frickleton, VC -- WW1
* Leslie Andrew, VC -- WW1
* Randolph Ridling, Albert Medal -- WW1
* Reginald Judson, VC, DCM, MM -- WW1
* John Grant, VC -- WW1
* Harry Laurent, VC -- WW1
* Jack Hinton, VC -- WW2
* Clive Hulme, VC -- WW2
* Keith Elliot, VC -- WW2
* Charles Upham, VC and Bar -- WW2
* David Russell, GC -- WW2
* Ken Hudson, GC.

I'm beyond wild about this, medals EARNED in battle, representing the absolute pinnacle of kiwi bravery on the frontline...and some prick just decides to help himself.

chances are these have been stolen to order...there aren't that many VC & bars floating around
December 2nd, 2007  
Team Infidel
that sucks......
December 2nd, 2007  
One word

and im glad that gets through the censor on this site, i think it is the only word to describe them
December 2nd, 2007  
someone on another forum has the punishment sorted for when they catch these ********s

make them wear a sandwich board saying what they did, then have them enjoy a national tour of every RSA clubrooms in the country
December 2nd, 2007  
Medal theft a 'crime against the country'

By PAUL MULROONEY and BECK ELEVEN - Fairfax Media | Monday, 03 December 2007

CRIME AGAINST NATION: The soldiers who were awarded the Victoria Cross medals which were stolen from the Army Museum at Waiorua.

The theft of millions of dollars worth of war medals is a crime that "has revolted the whole country", Prime Minister Helen Clark says.
PM disgusted at theft

About 100 medals, valued at around $10 million, were plundered in the brazen raid, including nine Victoria Crosses (VCs) - the nation's highest award for bravery during battle.
Among the VCs looted were the VC and bar awarded to famous World War 2 soldier Captain Charles Upham.
Two rare George Crosses, an Albert Medal, a Distinguished Conduct Medal and Military Medal were also taken in the burglary.
A border alert has been put in place to prevent any of the medals from leaving the country.
Miss Clark today joined her Defence Minister Phil Goff in saying the heist was a crime against the nation.
"This is a crime that has revolted the whole country. We all know what those men who earned those medals did. Those medals should not be on the market. They should not be stolen," she said on TVNZ's Breakfast programme.
"It's a crime against the nation. The men who earned those medals performed outstanding acts of heroism and to think that someone would specifically target them for a theft like that appals everybody."
New Zealand had recently signed up to international conventions that required the return of illicitly acquired cultural property, making it hard for the thieves to sell the medals, she said.
"It would be very hard to put them on the market in a lot of countries where they would have meaning because the New Zealand market would have the legal means to get them back.
But she was concerned the medals may have been stolen to order.
"Is there some very reclusive wealthy collector who has had them stolen to order? And if that were the case then of course they would not come on to the market."
The key focus now had to be on identifying cars around Waiouru at the time of the heist.
Miss Clark appealed for the thieves to "drop the medals in a letter box somewhere" so they could get back to their rightful place.
Inspector Steve Mastrovich of Ruapehu police said a major criminal investigation had been launched.
A hotline, 0800-349-0606, was immediately set up by police for the public to call with any information about the medals or the thieves.
Mr Mastrovich said police wanted to piece together movements in Waiouru and identify vehicles, where they were parked in the town and the direction they were travelling when they left.
He said the burglars got into the museum via a rear fire escape and went directly to the Valour Alcove where they broke into two display cases, emptying one and partly emptying another.
Mr Mastrovich told NZPA there was a third display case in the room that was not touched, maybe because the offenders ran out of time when the alarm was tripped. "It doesn't look as if it was a spur of the moment thing," he said.
The distraught families of war heroes have pleaded for the return of the stolen medals.
Charles Upham's daughter, Virginia Mackenzie, said the theft was distressing to her family and ultimately to all New Zealanders.
"It's astounding," she said. "It's not only a loss to the family, it's also the other families who have lost theirs. And I think the average New Zealander would feel gutted.
"I can't imagine the type of people who would do this, it's beyond my comprehension."
Ms Mackenzie said she had great faith in the police and was positive the medals would be recovered.
Doug Elliott, son of Keith Elliott who won the Victoria Cross in North Africa in 1942, said family members were upset. "They can steal the medal but they can never take it away from Dad. He'll always be Keith Elliott, VC."
Mr Elliott said he had arranged for the medal to be displayed at Waiouru soon after his father's death in 1989. He had believed the medals were safe.
"I thought it was like Fort Knox."
Chief of Army Major General Lou Gardiner said it would be speculation to say the medals had been stolen to order or taken for ransom.
"These medals were awarded to their recipients for their extraordinary valour and have come to symbolise the huge sacrifices that all New Zealanders made in the many conflicts fought for the freedoms we have come to accept," General Gardiner said.
Museum executive trustee Don McIver said that, combined, the medals could fetch millions.
The VC awarded to Corporal Willie Apiata this year was not among the medals stolen.
War medals expert Alan Polaschek said the thieves' haul could be worth more than $10 million. Victoria and George crosses were so well recognised, however, it would be almost impossible to sell them on the open market.
The Victoria Cross, instituted in 1856, is the Commonwealth's highest award for bravery in the face of the enemy. The VCs stolen were awarded to: Samuel Frickleton; Leslie Andrew; Reginald Judson; John Grant; Harry Laurent (all WWI); Jack Hinton; Clive Hulme; Keith Elliott; Charles Upham (all WW2).

The George Cross, instituted in 1940, is jointly Britain's highest award for gallantry. Unlike the Victoria Cross, it can be awarded to civilians, as well as military staff not in the presence of the enemy. The medals stolen were awarded to David Russell (WW2); Ken Hudson.

The Albert Medal, named after Queen Victoria's husband, was instituted in 1866 and discontinued in 1971. Originally for saving life at sea, it was expanded to include land. Most recipients swapped theirs for a George Cross in 1971, but Randolph Ridling kept his for sentimental reasons. It was stolen.
Police have set up a hotline for the public to call with information: ring 0800 349 0606 if you can help.

- With NZPA
December 2nd, 2007  
There is one thing certain and that is they can be sold on
December 2nd, 2007  
major liability
Why were the in a museum? I always thought the family of the recipient got to hold on to the medals.

I know if I earned a Victoria Cross and someone stole it I'd be coming back from the dead to get them.
December 3rd, 2007  
Originally Posted by major liability
Why were the in a museum? I always thought the family of the recipient got to hold on to the medals.

donated to the country...or on loan...from the families
December 3rd, 2007  
A Can of Man
First thing's first. Hang the bastard who was guarding them!
December 3rd, 2007  
I am hoping it was just a bunch of local idiots who thought it would be something nifty to do as that is about the only real chance of seeing the medals again the worst case scenario's are that they were stolen to order in which case they are probably long gone or stolen to make a point in which case they are probably destroyed.

Either way its a sad state of affairs and I would have expected that the "Army Museum" would have had a little better security than this.

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