Designer demands return of three priceless handbags stolen from Wellington store


Nikau Hindin (left) and Jessie Wong collaborated on three limited edition handbags that were stolen

Yu Mei/provided

Nikau Hindin (left) and Jessie Wong collaborated on three limited edition handbags that were stolen

A luxury designer is appealing for the return of three priceless handbags stolen from her Wellington store a fortnight ago after police have yet to make any arrests.

Jessie Wong, founder and designer of handbag brand Yu Mei, had around 70 handbags worth around $50,000 stolen from the brand’s flagship store on Victoria St on the morning of 4 January.

Police are still investigating the burglary, but no one has been charged or arrested. Police are warning the public to beware of high-end handbags offered for sale online.

Wong said three specially designed handbags were a particularly difficult loss.

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The bags were part of a Matariki collection titled Whānau Mārama (Heavenly Bodies), designed in collaboration with the artist Nikau Hindin.

“The bottom line is that I hope Nikau Hindin’s bags will be returned. They were special one-of-a-kind bags,” Wong said.

“Nikau spent hours and hours meticulously painting these bags with beautiful designs that meant so much to her.”

Whānau Mārama bags were considered works of art and were not for sale. Only three bags were made.

Yu Mei handbags were stolen in a break-in at the company's flagship store on Victoria St, Wellington.

Supplied/police nz

Yu Mei handbags were stolen in a break-in at the company’s flagship store on Victoria St, Wellington.

“It’s just such a beautiful project. We are both heartbroken that they are gone, and we really want to see them back.”

The other purses stolen were sale models from the new spring-summer collection, priced between $600 and $1,500.

“We’re disgusted to see them disappear because this is our brand new collection that we’ve worked so hard to get into the country and bring to life.”

Staff were first alerted to the theft after receiving a notification that the store’s security cameras had been disabled.

Jessie Wong in Oriental Bay in the wind with her Yu Mei Geogie - Sunshine bag.

Jericho Rock-Archer / Stuff

Jessie Wong in Oriental Bay in the wind with her Yu Mei Geogie – Sunshine bag.

“Someone obviously made an effort to get through both doors. The first downstairs was a sliding door that they somehow got through. The second was a locked door, they used some sort of metal object – we could hear it on the cameras when they dropped it – to pry the door open.

Apart from the handbags, all that was missing was a cart that the thief had used to stock up.

Since the break-in, Wong has beefed up security at the store and put in place notifications in case the bags go on sale online.

Police have asked who sees the handbags for sale on online platforms, or who has information that could help police investigations, to get in touch via 105 and quote case number 220104/7961 .

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