One of the owners of the Waipukurau bar targeted by thieves twice on the same day says the two crimes show an urgent need for more police in the district.
Thousands in cash was stolen from the Farrier's Arms on Northumberland St in an early-morning break-in last Tuesday. A few hours later, a man then allegedly attempted to steal money from the bar's till.
Farrier's Arms co-owner Joy Cooper was so angered by the crimes she said she would be contacting both Tukituki MP Craig Foss and Wairarapa MP Alastair Scott to demand more police officers for CHB.
In the early-morning break-in just after 5am last Tuesday, a man wearing a cap and hood, with a bandana covering his face, smashed a window at nearby Cervus Equipment to gain entry to the bar. He then kicked a "monstrous" hole in the door of the pub's office, found the key to a safe and then stole thousands of dollars.
"They must have known the place well, as they knew to go to the office and they managed to find the key for the safe," said Joy.
A distinctive black and white plastic dog - used as a tip jar - was also stolen in the robbery. Joy said the tips were intended to be given as a gift to a pregnant staff member.
"It's just so disheartening," she said.
Just hours later that same day, a man who had been playing the pokie machines in the pub's gaming room then allegedly attempted to steal money from the bar's till.
Ms Cooper, who was in the bar's dining area at the time around 12.45pm, saw the man behind the bar and then chased him out. The man was arrested soon after when he was pulled over by police near Otane just after 1pm.
Ms Cooper said one of her staff rang 111 about the first robbery just after 6am after they arrived for work. However she said it took until 7.45am before a police investigator turned up to dust the scene for fingerprints.
The fact the second alleged offender was apprehended not long afterwards showed the difference when police were on duty, she said.
"I'm not having a go at the local police officers, we all know they are under-resourced, but the fact they caught the second guy within minutes shows the difference it can make when there are actually police around and on duty," she said.
Ms Cooper's sports bar, which she built with partner Les Michau 15 years ago, is located directly across the road from Waipukurau police station, which, along with Dannevirke, could become home to a 24/7 police base by 2018/19 after extra funding for police was announced by the government back in February.
Twenty police stations will be upgraded to 24/7 bases due to the extra $388 million investment, which will also result in an extra 880 sworn police staff and more than 200 non-sworn staff nationally over four years, including an extra 68 officers for the Eastern Police district, which covers CHB.
Ms Cooper said given the spate of crimes in recent months in CHB - not just involving her pub but also the ram-raiding of the Takapau Four Square, the theft of $4000 worth of tobacco products from Waipukurau New World supermarket, the overnight robbery of Zinc Cafe just up the road, and the theft on Monday of a ride-on mower from Central Rugby Club - she wanted extra officers to be assigned to CHB and soon.
"We can't afford to wait. We need them urgently," she said.
Extra police resources
Hawke's Bay Police Area Commander Inspector Tania Kura was, coincidentally, in CHB last Tuesday for a celebratory function to mark the launch of a network of community-funded CCTV cameras across Waipukurau and Waipawa.
She said Wairoa was one of the 20 stations that would go 24/7 in 2017/18 but a decision on Waipukurau or Dannevirke was not due to be made till 2018/19, so it was more than a year away.
However if Waipukurau did go 24/7, she said there would "definitely" be more police officers required to man the station, while money might also have to be spent on upgrading the Waipukurau station itself.
In the meantime, Eastern District police would have to weigh up the demand before making "value-for-money" decisions on where to best allocate the increased police resources.
"Does [CHB] need more officers if they are going to be sitting here on a Tuesday night at 3am saying 'what are we going to do next?' or would the community rather have someone sitting here at the front desk [of the police station] from 8am to 4pm every day? These are all those issues to consider and we haven't actually even gone down that path of deciding any of that or even discussing it, to be fair.
I'd rather it be well-thought out, rather than just throwing resources at it and then it doesn't work, and then everyone's feeling disillusioned and we've wasted time and money."
She said finding the extra officers was also a major hurdle to more police hitting the beat.
"Recruiting is our biggest challenge, amazingly. It's 1000 officers that we need to backfill, so hopefully some of that comes [CHB's] way," she said.
The other potential site for a new 24/7 police base, Dannevirke, is also experiencing something of a crime wave.
Last Monday, the Saigon Restaurant and Bar was robbed by a knife-wielding man. Other aggravated robberies in Dannevirke recently include the Caltex Westlow service station, Dannevirke Four Square and a ram raid at BP Connect on May 1, all targeting cigarettes and cash.
And in late March thieves caused thousands of dollars' worth of damage to DJ's Dairy in Woodville, when they tried to steal the cigarette cabinet and broke windows. Anyone with information about any of the crimes should contact Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.
- CHB Mail