“An English family who came to New Zealand to make a fresh start were left with only the clothes on their backs when their motel was burgled two days after they arrived.
Dawn and Conrad Tutin and their children Stephanie, 14, and Kiel, 12, arrived from Nottingham a week ago to begin a new life in Auckland, where Mr Tutin will work for Fisher & Paykel.
But last Wednesday, while they were out house-hunting, their room at the Takanini Motor Lodge was plundered of virtually everything they had brought with them.
“We were feeling really good because we’d found a house and we came back and felt the air rushing through the room … The children were the first to realise what had happened,” Mrs Tutin said.
The thieves took passports, visas, two laptops and photos as well as clothing.
Even cuddly toys made by friends and gifts for another daughter back in England were taken.
Mrs Tutin valued the loss at more than $25,000.
“It was heartbreaking. We’d just secured a home and then that happened.”
The thieves are thought to have got into the motel room through a door that opens onto a busy road.
Some of the Tutins‘ belongings were found strewn outside, partly in a bedcover that was used to carry items away.
“We were just thinking, ‘Why us … why that particular place?'” Mrs Tutin said.
“Nothing from the motel was stolen, just our stuff – they were intent on stealing everything.”
Mrs Tutin suspects their arrival back at the motel disturbed the burglars, and said that was just as disturbing as the theft itself.
They didn’t spend another night in the room. Instead, they went to an inner-city hotel where they asked to be in a room off ground level.
“We just felt so vulnerable. The children wouldn’t stay [in the motel] another night.”
After the theft, the family had to go shopping for replacements – a mission none of them enjoyed.
“You can’t go to one place to get everything you’ve lost,” Mrs Tutin said.
They are appealing for anyone who knows anything about the theft to contact police so they can get some of their belongings back.
“We don’t care about the clothes and stuff, it’s just the sentimental stuff we really want back.”
But the theft hasn’t put them off living in New Zealand.
“People have been absolutely lovely,” said Mrs Tutin. “It was just our bad luck.”
“Luck” really didn’t come into it, the family were staying in South Auckland, one of Auckland’s warmest crime hot spots. Here’s hoping that the remainder of their time in the country is more successful