Police execute search warrants which uncover statues stolen from Kerikeri business

Sophie the triceratops has been returned to Dragonfly shop on Kerikeri Rd, but is now badly damaged.

Northland police have reunited a local business owner with their prized companions following the execution of a number of search warrants.

Kerikeri officers investigating reports of burglaries in the Mid North and Whangārei areas have been making inquiries with a group of people believed to be involved over the last month.

Three search warrants were executed at the addresses last week, which led to the discovery of two large sculptures stolen from a second-hand shop called Dragonfly in Kerikeri.

The three-metre dinosaur named Sophie and a life-sized gorilla called The Gorilla, which were reported stolen in May, have been returned to owner Melanie Kinghan.


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However, the statues were in pieces.

Detective Sergeant Bart Graham, of Kerikeri’s combined investigation unit, said Kinghan was pleased to have the sculptures back but is “understandably disappointed about the damage caused by the thieves”.

“While police are glad to be able to return the items, it is unacceptable to take property that does not belong to you, and very disheartening to return the items in a poor condition.”

During the searches, police also located three vehicles, vehicle parts and a commercial truck and trailer unit alleged to have been stolen in recent months.


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An amount of cannabis and $13,000 of cash was also located, Graham said.

Graham said the offenders had attempted to disguise the stolen vehicles by removing identifying plates and altering their appearance.

Four men, aged between 18 and 36, have been arrested and charged in relation to the incidents and are due to appear in the Kaikohe and Whangārei District Courts in due course.

Sophie and The Gorilla – which Kinghan brought over from Vietnam several months ago – were a regular feature on the front lawn of the Kerikeri Rd property next to Hunting & Fishing.

Shop owner Melanie Kinghan has mixed feelings about getting her beloved sculptures back after they were damaged by thieves. Photo / Jenny Ling
Shop owner Melanie Kinghan has mixed feelings about getting her beloved sculptures back after they were damaged by thieves. Photo / Jenny Ling

CCTV footage from surrounding businesses captured two men in a ute with a trailer making off with them in the early hours of May 8.

Kinghan said her initial joy at hearing police had found them turned to distress when she saw the extent of the damage.

“It’s a bittersweet reunion right now,” she said, adding she would have to see if it was worth getting them repaired.

Kinghan gave a “huge thanks to Pip, the local policewoman on the case”.

“She never gave up and organised their return for me.”

Graham cautioned the public about the risks associated with buying vehicles via social media.


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“It is imperative potential buyers do their due diligence, such as using Car Jam and other public sites to verify the vehicles they are buying are not stolen.

“If something seems too good to be true, there is a strong chance it might be.”

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