23 Oct 2009

Medals theft prompted crime-stoppers system for NZ

10:34 pm on 23 October 2009

A British lord who offered $200,000 of the reward for the return of war medals stolen from New Zealand's National Army Museum says the criminals involved will be indirectly responsible for helping to catch others.

A career criminal, who has interim name suppression, was sentenced in the Auckland District Court on Thursday to 11 years' jail for the theft and other crimes.

Lord Michael Ashcroft offered $200,000 of a $300,000 reward for the return of the 96 medals, including nine Victoria Crosses.

He told Nine to Noon on Friday his involvement in the case sparked discussion with authorities about setting up the crime-stoppers telephone line in New Zealand, which was launched last week.

"We must thank the guys that took these medals for being indirectly responsible for a system now in New Zealand which can catch other crooks."

Lord Ashcroft said there will continue to be debate about the value and role of rewards, but the outcome in this case was certainly the right one.

Among the medals stolen in December 2007 were nine Victoria Crosses, including the VC and Bar awarded to distinguished New Zealand soldier, Captain Charles Upham, who served in World War II.

The medals were safely returned in February 2008.