updated 12/18/2007 9:36:53 PM ET 2007-12-19T02:36:53

The Grinch who stole Christmas may have had a change of heart, unexpectedly returning Christmas goods stolen from the house of a New Zealand family, police said Tuesday.

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But there was "not really a happy ending," said Senior Constable John Chambers: Most of the stolen goods — which had been bought as Christmas gifts — were likely to be thrown out because they had been badly damaged.

Stereo and DVD equipment, antiques and kitchen appliances were taken during a burglary late Saturday night at a property at Bannockburn, near the town of Cromwell on South Island.

Most of the $15,100 worth of goods were returned several hours later, wrapped in a sheet and left on the roadside outside the house.

The burglars returned again Monday to drop off two remote controls, which they left in the mailbox.

Trouble was, Chambers said, "90 percent of the goods are damaged," with a $3,800 LCD screen only fit for the local dump, along with most of the other returned items.

"It's a shame they didn't take more care of the equipment," Chambers said.

At the time of the burglary, the homeowner's 16-year-old son was the only person in the house, but he slept through it, Chambers said.

The teenager had left the front door unlocked and lights on as his father was due to arrive home early on Sunday. The family was covered by insurance.

Copyright 2007 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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