When Life Gives You Lemons…or Steals Your Hot Water Cylinder

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Dylan is the only one of us not overwhelmed by the task ahead.
Dylan is the only one of us not overwhelmed by the task ahead. He’s like ‘Yep, cool, let’s do this. And yay – stickers! I want to wear all the stickers.’

We’ve been back in New Zealand for two weeks now. Hong Kong was stinking hot, and especially uncomfortable being 29 weeks pregnant. But I’m still glad I got to check out one of the world’s most important cities. I just know never to return in summer, I’m sure it’s a great place in the winter.

The day after we arrived back home we went to the local park. It was one of those days that confirmed we were in the right place. A crisp (actually bloody cold, if I’m honest) but sunny winter’s day which enabled us to be outside with our boisterous boy. The monarch butterflies were out and Dylan was enjoying the playground. After the park we devoured a big feed of fish and chips – cliché, I know,  but our local fish and chip shop is most definitely the best in the world, and I’ve tried a lot of fish and chips.

Then the phone rang. It was my property manager. I’d been emailing her about the tenants who had just vacated, she was letting me know that they had some extra cleaning to do. Everything had been done by email. Until now.

‘Hi Emma, I’ve got some bad news for you’. ‘I’ve just been to check the tenants had tidied up the place and I’ve noticed the back door kicked in and the hot water cylinder has been stolen. They’ve also taken the taps from the bath’.

Now I’m not usually one to get emotional over business stuff but I was crazy tired and feeling the effects of the long flight. Plus I remembered the high excess (that’s Kiwi for ‘deductible’ – for my lovely US readers) of $850 I’d picked to keep my monthly insurance premium to a manageable level after the Christchurch earthquakes increased premiums dramatically.

After I finished calmly talking to her about the details I burst into tears. Because this is no longer business. This is the next adventure – the house my new baby will come home to. And some arsehole has just ruined my nesting plans for a bit of scrap metal they are probably going to sell for drugs.

The gap where the hot water cylinder should be. Note the very tidy removal job, these people were clearly professionals.
The gap where the hot water cylinder should be. Note the very tidy removal job, these people were professionals.

Admittedly the thieves were very courteous, they turned the water off at the mains before they broke in and lifted the access panel so the rusty old water from inside the cylinder wouldn’t flood the place and warp my native timber floors. They also left the insulation wrap and tidily removed the shelving in the cylinder cupboard so that doesn’t need to be replaced.

All of this points to them being reluctant thieves, likely driven to their vocation by a dependence on drugs. I still hate them, but I appreciate that they didn’t completely trash the place.

So I’m now nine weeks from delivering a baby with an insurance company that is dragging their feet getting us access to hot water and new taps. And I’m living with my parents.

There is no lesson in today’s post, no guidance or helpful tips. This is just life, a sucky part of it, but I’m hopeful my plan to live in a lovely, smaller home comes to fruition soon. Crashing at the parents house definitely has a time limit, and we are fast approaching it.

7 thoughts on “When Life Gives You Lemons…or Steals Your Hot Water Cylinder”

  1. The same happened to us. Moved from the UK back to Nz at 32 weeks visited rentals and found holes in walls, wall paper ripped off, out of control gardens. The rental manager had given tenants their bond back too!! We made an insurance claim with Tower and they were good, also had the agency pay to remedy the stuff insurance wouldnt cover. Was stressful at the time but the house got tidied, we added value and got nicer tenants as a result. Good luck- it’ll work out

    • Ouch Tammy – I can’t believe your rental manager gave the bond back! Thankfully we have an amazing property manager who has our back through all of this. She’s given the insurance company a kick in the backside on our behalf. Although it’s taken years to get to this point with a good property manager, we’ve had some terrible service over the years which is even harder to deal with when you travel a lot.

  2. Wow, that really sucks! I’ve never heard of people stealing water heaters (I assume kiwi “hot water cylinder” = hot water heater). Definitely heard horror stories of air conditioner compressors and refrigerant tubing stolen and the copper pipes from inside a house being stolen. Just for the scrap copper.

    Maybe a couple hundred bucks worth if a whole house is gutted of all that stuff (and wowwy all that labor to rip it out – just get a real job in demolition crooks!). Yet thousands or tens of thousands to replace (especially if the water is left on).

    Do you think the tenants smashed their way back in and stole the water heater?

    • That’s it Justin – they do it for the copper – but I’ve heard they’d only get about $80 for it! They specifically target older houses which have the older style water heaters. I’m sure it’s not the tenants, unfortunately the lawn mower they had left in the yard – and were due to pick-up the next day – was also stolen!

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