Museum Security Network

Police are not ruling out an inside job almost a week after nine Victoria Cross medals were stolen from the Army Museum in Waiouru

Friday, 07 December 2007200712070500   Police consider inside job in medals heist Police are not ruling out an inside job almost a week after nine Victoria Cross medals were stolen from the Army Museum in Waiouru.  A spokesman said detectives were focusing their investigations on the central North Island town, where officers have been joined by military police going door to door. Detective Dennis O’Rourke said no decision had been made on whether to endorse a $200,000 reward offered by a British collector for the return of the VCs and nearly 90 other medals stolen in the raid early last Sunday. O’Rourke said police had not concluded whether a single thief or a group of people had carried out the raid, which took less than five minutes and focused on the most valuable medals in the museum’s collection. “Day five, and we are still focusing our inquiry on the Waiouru area,” he said. “We still have a scene examination at the museum. The forensic people have gone home, but there are a number of other issues we want to cover off.” Journalists were for the first time yesterday afternoon allowed into the museum’s Valour Alcove, where the reinforced-glass cabinets had been smashed open. O’Rourke said police were being assisted by 20 MPs (military police) in their inquiries in the military township and were keeping an open mind on the possibility of an inside job. “There have been all sorts of possibilities and conjectures run past us, but we are at this point in the inquiry keeping a totally open mind as to that,” he said. O’Rourke said police were building a picture of movements in Waiouru on Sunday. “We are making progress. We have got to do the basics properly and that takes time,” he said. “If we try to skip that, when we get to a trial of offenders it is all going to fall apart.” He said the surveillance cameras at the museum had been operating, but he declined to say what they revealed. An army spokesman would not comment on the possibility of involvement in the heist by military personnel. “We are leaving all that stuff up to the police. Basically, what we don’t want to do is trip over the police or interrupt what they are doing,” he said. O’Rourke said the offer of a reward by Lord Ashcroft, who has the world’s biggest collection of VCs, was still under consideration. He said the detective heading the investigation would make the final decision in the next couple of days. The Government and police have expressed concerns a reward could act as an incentive to criminals. The Imperial War Museum in London, which owned the stolen VC and bar awarded to Kiwi war hero Charles Upham, said museum management had the “deepest sympathy” for the people of New Zealand over the loss of the medals. It said the Upham medals were bought last year with a grant from a British charitable trust on condition they remained on display in New Zealand at the Waiouru museum. The London museum declined to disclose the sum payed for Upham’s decorations and said the Army Museum in New Zealand had been responsible for insuring the coveted medals.   

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