New Zealand police have discovered hundreds of stolen garden ornaments – including several gnomes – which are believed to be connected to the crystal meth trade – inside a house in the North Island's Hawke's Bay.
Authorities described a trend whereby crystal meth – or "methamphetamine" – addicts steal garden decorations and trade them for their next hit.
Officers found more than 300 outdoor trinkets in and around the property in Flaxmere when called to assist a power company cutting off the electricity. The owners' outstanding bills totalled $10,000NZ (£5,741, $7,136).
Sergeant Cam Donnison told stuff.co.nz: "It was obvious straight away they were stolen. We were aware of the issue. It seems to be the fashion at the moment. They are taking these items to hock off for methamphetamine – it's all meth-driven."
"We are probably looking at three to four hundred different ornaments. They go all through the house as well. These are probably the result of dozens and dozens of burglaries in the last month."
Donnison could not be certain whether the owner of the home had been buying the stolen items or receiving them as a means of payment from meth addicts. He believed that larger ornaments could change hands for around $300NZ on the black market.
"This is certainly organised and targeted burglaries to steal items which are worth quite a bit of money. The perpetrators are stealing them to get rid of them easily, and quickly satisfy their methamphetamine addictions," he said.
"Some aren't worth a lot of money, but have been passed down by family members, so it's sad."