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Update - Operation Valour

Update - Operation Valour

New Zealand Police National News Release
8:37am 7 December 2007

The main focus of the investigation into the burglary of the Army Museum at Waiouru in the early hours of Sunday morning remains in the Waiouru area.

The forensic examination of the Museum premises was completed yesterday and the ESR Scientists and other experts who have been assisting the Police Scene Examination Team have returned to Wellington with a number of items located in their examination for further forensic examination and evaluation.

Detective Senior Sergeant Chris Bensemann, the Officer in Charge of the Investigation said it was too early to comment on what those items were and what relevance they might have to the enquiry.

"As with all enquiries into serious crime it is important to do the basics properly. We are keeping an open mind as to suspects and motives at this stage" he said. "To do otherwise could be counter-productive as the enquiry develops and the evidence and information we glean points us towards definite lines of enquiry."

It had been hoped to release the Museum premises yesterday but a review by senior Investigators on the enquiry team decided that a number of other matters should be attended to e.g. it was decided to digitally map the museum in order to graphically replicate the activities of the offender or offenders within the premises. An expert from Auckland has travelled to Waiouru to assist with this task. It is hoped to release the Museum today.

The door to door enquiry in the Waiouru township has been proceeding well greatly assisted by the 20 Military Police Officers seconded to the enquiry by the New Zealand Army. It was an uncomfortable exercise earlier today due to heavy rain in the Waiouru area but this did not hold-up the process. The local enquiries team has already called on something in the order of 400 houses and about 600 Army personnel and employees inside the Waiouru Military Camp. It is hoped that this phase of the investigation will be substantially completed today. Staff advise that there has been a very high level of co-operation by people spoken to and that a number of items of information have come out of this phase which have been passed on to the team for further enquiry.

Detective Senior Sergeant Bensemann said he was assessing the possible impact of the rewards that had been offered for the return of the medals on the investigation and that a decision on the matter would be made in the next day or so.

The stolen medal sets and biographical material in respect of the recipients had been posted on the New Zealand Police Website; http://www.police.govt.nz/operation/valour/ . Also on the website is the facility for any person with information which they think might assist the Police enquiry and lead to the recovery of the stolen medals to email the enquiry team with that information.

Detective Senior Sergeant Bensemann said that any person who was in or passing through the Waiouru area on late Saturday night or early Sunday morning, who had not already been spoken to by the Police should either email the enquiry or ring in on the 0800-VALOUR information line.

"What we want to do is to build up a picture of who was in the area and the movement of vehicles in the area at the time of the burglary", he said. "Because of the huge amount of information the enquiry team was processing, this might take a little time; the enquiry team would get back to everyone who contacted us to ascertain any information they might have", Detective Senior Sergeant Bensemann said.


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