They cut radiators, kitchen units, curtain rails, skirting boards and internal doors from their fittings in a raid that must have taken several hours and large removal vans to complete, police said.
The unoccupied pounds 250,000 house on the Kingsbridge estuary in south Devon was being refurbished by its owner, an elderly man from Wiltshire. He was on holiday after spending six months in hospital recovering from a stroke.
The thieves also stole two bathroom suites, including baths, toilets, showers and bidets. As a final insult, they took not only the boiler and cooker, but also the kitchen sink. The property stolen was estimated to be worth pounds 10,000.
The theft was reported over the weekend by a Plymouth builder who had been repairing the house. It had recently been fitted with a security alarm, but this was switched off after neighbours complained that it kept sounding by mistake.