A burglar with a discerning eye picked through an Eastbourne jewellery box and took only real diamonds while snubbing virtually-identical imitations.
Police believe this week’s theft in the Eastbourne home is possibly connected to another nearby where war medals and diamonds – one worth up to $50,000 – were taken.
The victim of this week’s burglary said said it did not appear to be a usual burglar.
“In the jewellery box, there were cubic zirconia sitting alongside real diamonds – they only took the real thing.
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“Whoever it was could tell the difference between fake and real. There was no trace of forced entry or fingerprints. Nothing in the house was disturbed and they left iPads and electronics untouched.
“We couldn’t initially even tell we had been burgled … It wasn’t until later that we realised they had been carefully through the cupboards and selected only the most expensive, luxury items leaving everything else behind. It seemed pretty professional.”
Nicholas Tsalis, from the Wellington Jewellery Valuation Centre, said experts could tell the difference between cubic zirconia and diamond with the naked eye but most members of the general public could not.
Inexpensive hand-held, battery-operated readers could do the job easily, he said.
John Harris, whose Eastbourne home was broken into in late-March, said while some of the items he had stolen appeared targeted, other items seemed random.
His father’s World War II medals were inside a strong box which was taken in its entirety so were clearly not targeted. One pair of medals was quite rare and he understood it was worth about £5000 (about NZ$9000).
But it was the sentimental value that hurt the most, as it did for his late-wife’s jewellery, which included pearls and about six diamonds, one he thought was worth up to $50,000. Other jewellery was left behind.
For each of his 35 years of married life – till she died four years ago – he gave his wife a silver trinket to celebrate an event of the year, for example a pram for a year a baby was born.
Though almost worthless, they had immeasurable sentimental value but had likely been thrown away, he said.
“My wife could go through those charms like prayer beads … 35 years of my married life has gone and that cuts me right to the core, even more than the medals.”
Senior Constable Andrew Moore, from Lower Hutt police, said it was possible the late-March burglary of war medals was linked to this week’s nearby burglary, in which only high-end property was taken.
While there was no sign of forced entry in this week’s burglary, a door was forced open in the Eastbourne war medal theft.
He confirmed that this week’s burglary saw only selected items stolen but doubted it was a case of theft-to-order.
“I doubt someone targeted Prada handbags because that is something they have been asked to get.”
In most burglaries there were questions about why some items were taken and others were left behind but the explanation could be as simple as whether the burglar had a car, he said.
Police had not ruled out doing a mail-out to the community.
“If people have a gut feeling something is a bit out of place they are encouraged to record details and, if necessary, call police.”