Lotus Belle co-founder Jessica Walsh, pictured with the tent taken from the family farm in Marlborough.
The co-founder of a glamping tent business is shocked a show tent on her family’s farm in Marlborough was stolen over the same weekend as her mother’s funeral.
Jessica Walsh, co-founder of Lotus Belle glamping tents, had spent the summer with her parents Jo and Mike Walsh, with one of her tents pitched in a family member’s paddock so prospective buyers could see it set up over the festival season.
However, her mother’s underlying health conditions were made worse when she contracted Covid-19, and she died on January 23, aged 76.
“She had just really gone downhill, it was really tragic,” Walsh said on Tuesday.
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“I was having a really bad day, because it was the day after the funeral … My godmother was with me, who I adore, and I said ‘let’s go for a drive … I’ll show you my tent’, because she had never seen my tents before.
“And we got there and I was like ‘oh my God’, it’s gone.”
A neighbour thought they saw the tent still at the site on Friday. Walsh said she suspected it was taken on the Friday, but it could also have been Saturday.
“But I mean it’s far enough away from the road, it’s about 100 metres away … and I padlocked every entrance to it, including the windows.”
Along with the large canvas tent, the culprit had also taken a large tent-sized piece of carpet that would have required a van with a long wheelbase, or some other large vehicle.
“I think it would have been a calculated theft … it’s not a five-minute takedown job.”
Blenheim police have urged people to take extra measures to protect their property, just a few days before the tent disappeared, as there had been more than 63 burglaries and 41 car thefts reported in December and January, which was a “disappointing” spike in crime, Sergeant Graham Single said.
Walsh said she heard that several cars along her street had also been broken into, within two weeks of her tent being taken.
“It’s happening all over Blenheim. It’s got to a point where people’s stuff is getting stolen from people’s properties in the middle of the day.
“I’ve lived in LA for four years, and I’ve never seen anything like it, it’s so bad, and in such a small town … it’s heartbreaking.”
A car is removed from the entrance of Matua dairy, Tauranga, after it was used in a ramraid.
Walsh now lived in Australia but she said on her visits home she had noticed a change in the frequency and nature of crime, an increase in methamphetamine availability, and she also thought people seemed more angry.
“I’ve had some beautiful messages [via social media] from people saying they are so sorry and what a horrible thing, but I’ve also had abuse, people saying I deserved it … to have something stolen from [a relative’s] private property? That’s really sick.
“I remember the days when you could leave the key in the car … what happened?
“I just think maybe the punishment isn’t hard enough, and now we’re getting things like ram raids happening.”
Walsh said she was prepared to pay $1000 as a reward for information leading to the culprit and the whereabouts of the tent.
“It’s just an extra incentive for honesty. And it’s not about the money to me, it’s about the act.”
published 2023-02-09 01:24:39