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The E-Sylum: Volume 12, Number 37, September 13, 2009, Article 27

NEW ZEALAND MEDAL THIEF PLEADS GUILTY

We've been following this story from the beginning - all of new Zealand was in an uproar over the theft of a large group of important medals from the Army Museum in Waiouru. Luckily, the story has a happy ending for everyone but the thief. -Editor

Waiouru Museum Medals Broken Case A man has pleaded guilty to the burglary of the Waiouru Army museum in 2007.

Another man still faces charges in connection with the incident when he appears in the Wanganui District Court for a depositions hearing on October 27.

An extensive manhunt and national outrage followed the theft of medals from a display case.

The Waiouru haul was huge. Among the 96 medals stolen were nine Victoria Crosses, including Charles Upham's VC and Bar - the only double VC decoration awarded to a combat soldier. Two rare George Crosses, an Albert Medal, a Distinguished Conduct Medal and Military Medal were also taken.

Even on a world scale, the Waiouru raid was unprecedented - comparable to the theft of major international artworks.

Going by overseas auctions in recent years, the haul was estimated to be worth $10 million, easily making it the biggest robbery in New Zealand criminal history.

Australian War Memorial Museum curator Nick Fletcher said at the time: "I don't think there's ever been a bigger theft than this before. No larger group of significant medals has been stolen like this."

The recovery of the medals was also significant.

It is believed that only one of the 15 other Victoria Crosses known to have been stolen worldwide since the mid-1800s have been recovered - and that one, stolen from the Canadian War Memorial Museum in 1973, was missing for 31 years.

British billionaire Lord Ashcroft, who owns the largest VC collection in the world - more than 140 VCs, or one in 10 of all those awarded since 1856, rates the Upham VC and Bar as the "Holy Grail."

To read the complete article, see: Guilty plea over Waiouru medal theft (http://www.stuff.co.nz/dominion-post/national/2851874/Guilty-plea-over-Waiouru-medal-theft)

The New Zealand Herald also had an article. -Editor

Waiouru Museum Medals The guilty plea from one of the men accused of stealing rare war medals from the Waiouru Army Museum has been welcomed by the museum director, who says the robbery took a terrible toll on his staff.

Colonel Raymond Seymour said the guilty plea was "marvellous news ... It brings closure to a terrible crime."

A 39-year-old man pleaded guilty yesterday in the Auckland District Court to the museum burglary on December 2, 2007. He was remanded in custody until next month.

Colonel Seymour said staff were badly affected by the thefts. "I don't think people realise the impacts the thefts had on my staff. They were just absolutely devastated. They were custodians of national treasure."

After the thefts, it was "like someone stole the heart from the museum", he said.

Ninety-six medals, including nine Victoria Crosses, two George Crosses and an Albert Medal, were stolen from locked display cabinets that were supposed to be protected with reinforced glass. Security at the museum has been improved since the burglary.

The medals have been back on display since October and have been a major draw for visitors.

To read the complete article, see: Medal thief's guilty plea delights Army museum

Wayne Homren, Editor

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