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Police tools crack the case

Nick’s Autos had nearly $40,000 worth of items stolen. PHOTOS/MARGY ARGUE

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Good old-fashioned police work and modern technology helped recover nearly $40,000 worth of equipment stolen from a Masterton mechanic in January.

The well-known Nick’s Auto Mechanics on Chapel St, was the victim of a robbery spree that had thousands of dollars worth of equipment and machinery stolen in a single night, including irreplaceable antique tools.

Investigations led police to multiple addresses within Wairarapa and beyond, resulting in raids on two properties earlier this month, and two Wairarapa men arrested and charged with burglary.

Nick Brook of Nick’s Auto was happy to have his tools returned.

Co-owners of Nick’s Auto, Ewen Stark and Jamie Loader confirmed a former employee was one of the men charged.

It was disappointing they said, because he had left Nick’s Auto on good-terms.

“That was the worst part,” said Loader, “it’s hard to put it diplomatically.”

Loader made the discovery when he arrived at work early on January 21.

He noticed the main doors were partially ajar, they had been jimmied open with brute force.

Inside, he saw items had been moved around, a couple of cardboard boxes and tools were missing. The petty cash was gone.

Stark said the police arrived within the hour and kept them informed of when they were raiding the properties, one just outside Masterton and one in Wainuiomata.

The burglary took place overnight on January 20, in multiple raids he said.

Stark said cameras from nearby businesses had picked up two cars in the area.

“The first car came and was scoping past the place shortly after 10pm.

“The first trip [inside] would have been about 45 minutes. He had a good look around. The next was maybe 15 minutes.”

Stark said it was hard to put a figure amount on the equipment stolen but estimated at about $40,000.

He said the police managed to recover most of it, and most importantly irreplaceable tools from Loader’s first days as an apprentice.

Stark said the police Facetimed him during the bust in Wainuiomata to confirm the tools discovered were Nick’s Autos.

“They did really well. We were blown away at how quickly they got it sorted. It was surprising and impressive.”

Wairarapa Head of Investigation Barry Bysouth said a scene examination and forensic analysis led to the recovery of the stolen items and arrests.

He said initial leads had a team knocking on doors in Wairarapa.

“Locations of interest were identified and search warrants executed,” he said.

The raids on the Wainuiomata and Wairarapa properties ensued.

He said four Wairarapa police staff put together the warrants and eight staff executed the searches.

Bysouth said a 31-year-old man and a 40-year-old man were subsequently arrested in relation to the burglary and would appear before Masterton District Court on February 24. He said the operation had concluded well.

“It’s why we’re here. We don’t always have results, but on this occasion, we were able to get the mechanics back the equipment they need to do their job.’’

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