WELLINGTON, New Zealand–Nearly 100 New Zealand medals of valor stolen from a military museum have been recovered, police announced recently. The priceless collection of medals– including nine Victoria Crosses, New Zealand’s highest military award for bravery– were returned after a $236,000 reward was offered, Detective Senior Sergeant Chris Bensemann said.
All the medals were recovered in good condition after being stolen from Waiouru Army Museum on North Island on Dec. 2, he told reporters.
The Victoria Cross for New Zealand
“The reward was offered for information leading to the safe return of the medals, and that has encouraged a person to come forward and facilitate the return of the medals to police,” Bensemann said.
The reward money was offered by British medal collector Lord Michael Ashcroft and New Zealand businessman Tom Sturgess.
The medals are worth several millions of dollars, according to Ashcroft, who possesses more than 150 Victoria Crosses –the world’s largest collection.
Bensemann declined to give details about the person that facilitated the return, or how much reward money would be paid after several weeks of negotiations.
He said police were close to making an arrest. “The net is closing and we are continuing to work very hard at pulling it tight” on the perpetrators, Bensemann said.
Inaugurated by Queen Victoria in the mid-1800s, the Victoria Cross for gallantry in war remains the highest valor award in Britain and its former colonies.
Defense Minister Phil Goff said he was relieved at the recovery. “These medals are New Zealand’s national treasures, with a value beyond any monetary worth,” he said in a statement.