Crime awareness main goal of Papamoa group

By Allison Hess

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SUPPORT: Sergeant Phil Gillbanks and co-ordinator Lorraine Stevens.PHOTO/GEORGE NOVAK
SUPPORT: Sergeant Phil Gillbanks and co-ordinator Lorraine Stevens.PHOTO/GEORGE NOVAK

A rock crashing through her window in the dead of the night led a Papamoa woman to start a Neighbourhood Support group. Seven years later, 5000 Papamoa homes have been registered.

"I phoned the police to see if there was a group in my neighbourhood and they said there wasn't. The police asked 'do you want to start one?' So I said 'fine'," Neighbourhood Support Papamoa co-ordinator Lorraine Stevens said.

Ms Stevens and Papamoa Sergeant Phil Gillbanks had kept the network going and growing over the years, always finding new people and homes and getting them involved.

"It takes a lot of work and it's totally voluntary.

"You don't just get people ringing up saying they want to be in a group, you've got to find them," she said.

Police have a database of 5000 Papamoa homes with names, numbers and email addresses and Ms Stevens said they use it a lot, "it's invaluable".

"We stress, if you see something, say something."

Mr Gillbanks said at the end of last year a man with mental issues had wandered away from his caregiver in Papamoa. "We used the Neighbourhood Support email network and within 20 minutes I had four people from the Neighbourhood Support community tell me where they had seen that male, and that led us on a path to his location."

Neighbourhood Support helped people develop a sense of belonging on their street.

Meanwhile, a recent Bay of Plenty Times special report into burglaries by suburb revealed Papamoa Beach East had 41 burglaries between July 2014 and December 2015, while Omanu had 154, Mount Maunganui north 73, and Central Tauranga 68 burglaries. "People have to be willing to take ownership of their own home and an interest of the area where they live," Mr Gillbanks said.

- Bay of Plenty Times

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