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Hunt continues for stolen medals

Published: 8:22PM Sunday December 30, 2007 Source: ONE News

It has been four weeks since a smash and grab at the Waiouru Army Museum robbed the nation of some of its most valuable treasures.

And the painstaking hunt for the nine Victoria Crosses is now focused on one car.

The theft broke the nation's heart as 96 precious war medals were snatched from their custodians in just three  minutes - among them the VC and bar belonging to NZ's most famous soldier, Charles Upham.

"It's disgraceful, it's beyond belief...but it's a shame to all New Zealanders not just to us," Upham's daughter Amanda Upham says.

Waiouru Army Museum director Ray Seymour says someone will know who was responsible.

"Someone will know the people, they'll know where these medal groups are and the nation wants them back," Colonel Seymour says.

A 40-strong team has combed the museum's grounds and security camera footage for clues. But police have remained tightlipped on what has been found.

"If I released anything that's on that footage at this time it could compromise the investigation. I'd prefer that we just leave it," Detective Senior Sergeant Chris Bensemann says.

British collector Lord Ashcroft is offering a $200,000 reward for information leading to the safe return of the nine Victoria Crosses but local police have still not accepted.

Door to door inquiries have been made by service personnel in Waiouru and their efforts resulted in police executing search warrants on the army base.

But with the need for a breakthrough in the case increasing some high profile kiwis made a heartfelt appeal for the return of the medals.

Investigators are concentrating on the whereabouts of a car repeatedly spotted in Waiouru on the morning of the crime

"The vehicle has been described to us as a light coloured mid to late 80s station wagon, may even be an early 90s model, it may have round headlights," Detective Sergeant Debbie Gower says.