Raiders grab cheese worth $3000 in repeat raid

By Sam Hurley

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Hohepa resident Paul Wood, cheese makers Peter Hargroves and Inacio Guamares and volunteer Emma Short were victims of the cheese thieves. Photo/Paul Taylor
Hohepa resident Paul Wood, cheese makers Peter Hargroves and Inacio Guamares and volunteer Emma Short were victims of the cheese thieves. Photo/Paul Taylor

Callous thieves "stooped to a new low" when they stole $3000 worth of award winning cheese from an intellectual disability home, the home's manager says.

The Saturday night burglary was the second break-in at Hohepa Hawke's Bay this year.

Hohepa sustainability manager Greg Woodham said: "They broke in sometime late on Saturday night and this is the second time in just over a month."

Hohepa Homes was previously raided on January 8 with a similar amount of cheese stolen.

The facility, just outside of Clive, is a nationwide charity creating curative education and social therapy for children and adults with intellectual disabilities.

This time 25kg of cheese was carted away by raiders.

At Hohepa Hawke's Bay, residents, volunteers and two cheesemakers work in a small factory producing award winning cheese to help raise funds for the charity.

"In January they came in through the bathroom window and through to the room where all the cheese is left to dry out," said Mr Woodham.

"So after that we beefed up security, added locks and alarms but this time they came through the milking shed, smashed the window into the cheese making facility, left big dirty footprints everywhere and took off with ten big wheels of cheese."

Unfortunately the newly installed alarm failed to sound as the thieves walked off with the cheese, weighing about 5-7kg per wheel.

"Someone is out there flogging off all this cheese - they are either really dumb and stupid and just doing it for a bit of fun or there is some sort of hidden cheese market out there. You would like to think they don't know who they are stealing from because if they do that's really sad. Every little bit of cheese helps." He said CCTV footage from the night has proved inconclusive despite a suspicious looking van driving into the property along SH2 about 2.30am.

"We are just dumbfounded really when we think about it, and the residents are quite upset.

"I guess we are just waiting to find someone flogging off cheese to find out who it was."

Cheesemakers Peter Hargroves and Inacio Guamares were saddened to find their factory smashed and prized cheese gone.

"We hope someone will come forward, really, someone will know something and just like with the furniture we might find out who has done it," Mr Hargroves said, referring to the home's stolen outdoor furniture recovered last year.

Hohepa Hawke's Bay general manager Andy White said it was "horrible" to think people could simply take from a community dedicated towards aiding others. "We work on helping the residents develop a real sense of trust in humanity and for them to discover what these people have done it's simply broken their trust, it's very disappointing."

A police spokeswoman said Saturday's incident is currently under investigation and acknowledged the similar theft last month.

Anyone who has information about the theft is urged to contact local police or call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.

- HAWKES BAY TODAY

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