17 Sep 2009

Stolen Tarlton museum coins may have turned up

4:16 pm on 17 September 2009

A report that coins stolen from Kelly Tarlton's Tui Shipwreck Museum almost a decade ago may have reappeared on an online auction is being investigated by police.

Kitchen hand Keith McEwen stole $300,000 worth of items, including rings, charms, bracelets and gold coins, from the museum at Waitangi in 2000, but has never revealed what he did with them.

The treasure had been recovered by Kelly Tarlton from the wrecks of the steamers Elingamite and Tasmania.

Paihia Sergeant Peter Masters says a person has told police some coins that appear to be from the museum theft have been offered on Trade Me. The online trading site has given the seller's details to police.

Kelly Tarlton's widow, Rosemary, says she and her husband spent their entire lives putting together the museum and would be overjoyed if the coins turned out to be the stolen items.

Rosemary Tarlton says she lost heart after the burglary, but if the coins and jewellery were to come back she would be willing to place the treasures back on display.

McEwen served more than seven years for the theft, and is currently serving a prison sentence for rape.