Elderly group living in fear of crime spree

By Sam Hurley

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A group of elderly Flaxmere residents have had enough of the "thugs" that rule the streets around their retirement village and neighbourhood, after four cars were broken into last Friday night.

Moewaka Shepherd, 65, said enough was enough as the vulnerable people in her community were "sitting ducks" to the developing culture of vandalism and theft in Flaxmere.

"A lot of people that live here are petrified," she said. "These poor people can't get up and go anywhere because they are bullied by these thugs."

Ms Shepherd said the security at the retirement home and the assistance offered by the police "absolutely sucked".

Swansea Village is run and maintained by the Hastings District Council and is the largest in the councils housing for the elderly with 64 flats.

"The police were absolutely hopeless," she said. "Some people are sitting up till four or five in the morning, waiting for the sun to come up, making sure nothing happens."

She said it appeared those responsible for ransacking the cars are growing more confident and are not worried about how close they are parked to the flats.

"One of the cars was only 20ft from the front door," she said. "What would have happened if he had opened the door and come out?"

She said people were sick of living in fear and were worried about leaving their front doors, especially after dark.

"A lot of them don't like leaving their homes, they are living in hell," she said.

Diane Hook, 63, said she was constantly worried about the wellbeing of her fellow residents in the village.

"About seven or eight years ago somebody walked right into my house, right where I was sleeping and stole my purse," she said.

Ms Shepherd had contacted local councillor Henare O'Keefe who said he supported her bravery in wanting to end the vandalism and thievery.

Mr O'Keefe said the whole experience was particularly unpleasant for the kaumatua.

"They were angry and who could blame them," he said. "The disrespect shown to our other people is horrible."

He said the concern was that it was teenagers who were causing the trouble and finding ways to deal with the issue would prove to be difficult.

"We can manage it as best we can, we can increase the back fence size and have someone live in the front flat as permanent security," he said. "Community patrols need to be not just a drive-by but a foot patrol through the village as well."

Ms Shepherd said she was going to make her voice known and spearhead a campaign to help out her fellow village residents.

"I'm doing this for the community," she said. "I am going to stop this nonsense."

- HAWKES BAY TODAY

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