Bay man confronts burglars

By Amy McGillivray, John Cousins

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A former New Zealand rugby representative confronted two thieves when he arrived home from the gym on Tuesday evening to find his house being burgled.

When Leigh Peina saw two men on the patio of his Papamoa house, his first thought was that one of them was a neighbour coming to borrow some tools.

But when they moved inside and went through double doors into the lounge, he realised it was something sinister.

The 40-year-old, who played for New Zealand's Second Division representative rugby team, said he went nuts at the two men, sending them tumbling out of his Calypso Drive house and across the back fence.

He chased them and nearly caught one who had fallen over. The burglar who was still on his feet said: "Let's take him." But Mr Peina met the challenge, saying: "Come on then, I'll take both of you."

By that time, the other man had scrambled to his feet and they decided to continue fleeing.

The action moved to the Wairakei Stream reserve. Mr Peina said the only thing that stopped him having another go at the burglars was the darkness. He could not see whether they were carrying weapons.

They scarpered across the new tsunami evacuation bridge and he rushed back inside to get the phone to ring police. As he was making the call, he saw them get into a car in the Golden Sands subdivision.

Realising his last opportunity was to cut off the car, he jumped into his ute. He saw a car coming towards him as he was going around the corner and drove straight at it. The driver stopped but it was the wrong car.

It turned out Mr Peina had just missed the getaway because the driver said he had seen the burglars' car. "If I had seen them coming, I would have rammed them with my truck."

The burglars, who struck about 6pm, left behind a TV and bags of meat on the patio, and dropped a camcorder. Missing was some jewellery and three jackets, including Mr Peina's prized New Zealand divisional representative jacket.

The former King Country player has lived in Papamoa with his wife and two children for seven years.

Meanwhile, police are urging residents to secure their properties amid a string of burglaries in the area.

The car driven by the men involved in the burglary of Mr Peina's house was an older style red, two-door Honda Prelude with a noisy exhaust and a spoiler on the back.

Neighbour Noel Gooch said it was usually a quite and safe neighbourhood. "We've never thought about being extra careful. Now we will lock our back gate."

Sergeant Phil Gillbanks said it was the sixth burglary in the area in a week, with electronics stolen each time. The thieves seemed to be canvassing the area and targeting houses that were not occupied at the time.

Senior Sergeant Deirdre Lack said the burglaries appeared to be taking place in the early evening when it was getting dark. It was possible the burglars were targeting houses without lights on.

"It's just becoming a pattern. It's quite normal for the same offenders to be targeting the same area. We just need to get it out there before it becomes a regular thing."

Warnings circulated through the Neighbourhood Support network and letterbox drops had already seen a large amount of information come in about the car, Ms Lack said.

The offenders are believed to be Maori in their early 20s, about 1.8m tall. Both wore dark-coloured hooded sweatshirts and dark pants.

Mr Gillbanks encouraged people to take simple steps to protect their houses. "If you have an alarm in your house, activate it." He also urged people to make sure windows were fully locked rather than left on a half latch and to leave lights on when they were out at night.


Streets targeted



  • Wairakei Ave


  • Madeleine Terrace


  • 2 x Horokaka Place


  • Saratoga Court


  • Calypso Drive


- BAY OF PLENTY TIMES

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