A criminal is on the loose on the streets of Christchurch - and not just any criminal – a hat thief. And one with exquisite taste too.
The Christchurch Star reported that the victim, 89-year-old Jim McLachlan, was sent the tartan hat by his mother 50 years ago.
Mr McLachlan told Jesse Mulligan he was on his way home from the Little Brown Jug pub in Burnside when a boy on bicycle came up besides his mobility scooter and snatched the hat.
“I was on my way back home again from The Little brown Jug the pub up the road, I go up there for company because I live on my own, I lost my wife six years ago.
“I was on my mobility scooter on Wayside Avenue when all of a sudden a bicycle came up alongside me and snatched my hat off my head,” he says.
The hat is a “good blue tartan hat with a blue tassel on top,” Jim told Jesse.
“Off he went on his bike up Wayside Avenue as fast as he could go, and he must have been a pretty fit boy because he could peddle a bike pretty fast.”
Jim’s mates at the pub give him plenty of stick for wearing his treasured cap, he says.
"A lot of people take the Mickey out of me you know and I just fire it back at them, specially the Crusaders supporters but we're all good friends we have a lot of good fun.”
He said it all happened in a flash.
“He just snatched it. It’s the last thing in the world you would expect you know? Especially in New Zealand, you don't expect things like that to happen.”
There would be very few similar hats like it in New Zealand, Jim says.
“As you probably know each clan in Scotland has got two or three different tartans, they have a battling cap for fighting the English and a dress tartan and a hunting tartan.
"So it makes it pretty hard to distinguish which one it is but I’m pretty sure it’s the Macbeth tartan. It’s Highlanders colours, blue and yellow and it's got some Crusaders colour a wee bit of red in it as well.”
He says the police have been very helpful and are doing their best to get his cap back.
Doubtless the thief has no idea what it means to Jim, he's looked after it carefully for 50 years, he says.
“Every time I look at it, when it’s hanging up, I think about my mother.”
Jim came to New Zealand as a young man in the late 1950s, he told Jesse.
“I was very unsettled after the war and when I came out the army I just couldn't settle down, I was having a wee bit of trouble with women who all wanted to get married, it wasn't for me at all, so I hopped on a ship from the River Clyde, The Captain Hobson and headed for New Zealand only meaning to stay here about six months a year or something … I've been here since 1958.”
But Jim did settle down, he married a Kiwi nurse and has a daughter, Anne.
“I met her on a cruise to Fiji and Tonga I don't have any regrets at all.”
And if you have any information about the location of the hat - or if you happen to own a Scottish clothing store and want to send Jim a replacement - you can contact the original reporter of this story, Louis Day, on 021 919 917