Amy McGillivray

Amy is the lifestyles reporter for the Bay of Plenty Times.

Warning over homeless man

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A Tauranga school has warned parents to take care when dropping off their children at school after concerns were raised about a homeless man living in his car in the area.

An email was sent to parents of St Mary's Catholic School on Friday warning of an "unwelcome stranger" who had been repeatedly spotted in his car near the school at the start and end of the day.

Principal Ben Fuller said the property manager first spotted the man sleeping in silver 1996 Honda Legend late last year. He was asked to leave but ignored the request.

He has been seen on 13th Ave outside the Cluny Sisters Convent grounds and last week police were called to ask him to leave the Harvey St carpark. Police also issued him with a trespass order.

"What was concerning is it was quite a repeated behaviour. This was the fourth occasion where we have had to call police to ask him to move from adjacent to our school boundary."

The email asked parents to ensure they saw their children enter the school grounds after dropping them off and to pick them up from main entrances.

Staff would be insisting children wait within the school grounds to be collected and an additional teacher would be on duty after school. Students who walked home would still be able to do so. Mr Fuller said the school was erring on the side of caution and parents should not panic.

"We've always got to manage risk and if there is a risk the we've got the responsibility to take some action."

Phil Boyte, owner of 14th Ave Dairy, said the man was a regular customer of his was a "very nice guy".

"He's certainly not going to harm anybody. He's been told to move on from a lot of places."

Tauranga Salvation Army core officer Ross Wardle said there were a number of people in Tauranga who were forced to sleep in their car as there was no emergency housing available.

Parents picking their children up from the school were glad the school was being pro-active and cautious.

One mother the Bay of Plenty Times spoke said the news was very concerning so she had arrived a little earlier than usual to do the school pick-up. She was pleased with the way the school had handled it.

Acting Senior Sergeant Paul Cade, officer in charge of Tauranga station, said no offence had occurred but the principal had some concerns.

Mr Cade said the man was often found sleeping in his car in different areas around Tauranga. "It's not the first time he's been brought to police attention."

If the man was found in breach of the order he could be arrested and charged, Mr Cade said.

- Bay of Plenty Times

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