Spike in serious crime in Western Bay

By Sandra Conchie

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CHRISTMAS EVE DRAMA: Armed offenders squad members and other police outside the Filthy Few Motorcycle Club headquarters in Birch Avenue on Tuesday.
CHRISTMAS EVE DRAMA: Armed offenders squad members and other police outside the Filthy Few Motorcycle Club headquarters in Birch Avenue on Tuesday.

A spike in serious crime in the Western Bay has prompted a warning from police about staying safe over the holidays.

There has been at least three home invasions in Tauranga in the past seven days, one of which required a victim to have an eye surgically removed.

Police also held an early morning raid at a gang headquarters in connection to one of the home invasions.

The latest home invasion was at 9.30pm on Sunday in Whakamarama.

Two people, aged 31 and 50, were at home when four masked people assaulted them.

One of the victims' injuries were so severe, the person lost an eye.

Early on Christmas Eve armed police and members of the armed offenders squad raided the Filthy Few Motorcycle Club on Birch Ave.

Two men, aged 27 and 43 were arrested in relation to the invasion on Sunday and appeared in court later that day.

The pair were charged with aggravated burglary, wounding with intent to cause grievous bodily harm, and injuring with intent to injure.

Western Bay area commander Inspector Clifford Paxton would not be drawn on the details of the attack, nor would he confirm the age of the more seriously injured victim, or whether a weapon was used.

"It is still very early days in our investigation and while two other people are outstanding I'm not prepared to go there," he said.

Mr Paxton confirmed the offenders and victims were known to each other.

Several items of interest were located during the armed raid, he said.

During the past week there have been at least two other home invasion attacks.

Last Wednesday, a man was stabbed in the back with a knife at a Papamoa Beach Rd address and barely two hours later there was an armed home invasion burglary in Miro St.

On Friday evening there was also a knifepoint home invasion burglary at a Grenada St, Mount Maunganui, address during which police say the three offenders demanded cash and drugs.

Some of the occupants were punched and kicked.

People have been charged and are before the courts in relation to all three home invasions.

Mr Paxton said these types of incidents were "very disappointing" and concerning.

"Since early December there has been a significant rise in serious incidents, including the death of Merivale father Lance Scullin, and the Maketu shooting homicide, which obviously has a significant impact on our [police] members and their families, and the wider community."

Mr Paxton said he and his colleagues were extremely grateful for the support police have received from the community during these "extreme times".

"At this time of year there are a lot of extra pressures on people, whether it is because of family dynamics, financial difficulties or due to other concerns. My advice to the community is to try to be tolerant and look after each other.

"But if people do find themselves in a situation that causes them or their wider family, or other any members of the community any concerns I urge them to call us and let us intervene before people get hurt, property is taken or gets damaged," he said.

Anyone witnessing any suspicious or concerning activities is urged to phone Tauranga police on 577 4300 or provide the information anonymously via the Crimestoppers line on 0800 555111.

- BAY OF PLENTY TIMES

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