Security at small museums ‘shocking’ – dealer
By Allison Rudd on Mon, 22 Feb 2010
Long-time medal dealer Tom Taylor-Young is not surprised to hear a medal went missing from the Port Chalmers museum.
“It doesn’t surprise me, but it worries me . . . The security at most smaller museums is shocking, and I’ve been saying that for years to anyone who will listen.”
Raised in Dunedin, Mr Taylor-Young has been a dealer for more than 40 years and has worked in New Zealand and London.
He runs a shop and online business in Christchurch.
Small museums and other organisations responsible for historic items often did not realise how attractive rare items were to thieves, he said.
“A George Medal is very rare.
“Rare items need to be treated with respect.”
He said he had not heard of a George Medal being offered for sale in New Zealand, and if one did come on the market a collector would pay “$50,000 plus, and I wouldn’t like to say what the plus might be”.
New Zealand had been hit by a spate of thefts from museums and organisations.
In 2007, intruders broke into the Waiouru Army Museum and stole 96 medals from reinforced glass cases.
The medals were recovered.
Last October, Oamaru man Lindsay Smaill was convicted and discharged for stealing and selling war medals he had been responsible for at the Oamaru RSA.
In the same month, an audit revealed 30 war medals were missing from the Te Awamutu Museum.
The theft was discovered when one of the medals was put up for sale online by a United States collector.
In November, a box of 12 greenstone adzes was reported missing from the receiving area at the Southland Museum and Art Gallery in Invercargill.
Police inquiries are continuing.
Mr Taylor-Young said the Port Chalmers Museum needed to close temporarily, carry out a full stocktake and audit, value all items, and ensure it put proper documentation and security systems in place.
“Who knows how much other stuff may have gone missing and over what period of time.”
He offered to assist with the task free of charge because of his Dunedin connections.