$1100 stolen from cars in a single day

By Victoria White

4 comments

Despite an increase in security measures, thieves got away with an estimated $1100 after breaking into three cars on Sunday, in the most recent spate of vehicle break-ins at Pakowhai Country Park.

Users said there had been break-ins at the popular dog-walking park for years.

An increase this year meant Hastings District Council, which owns an area of land including the car park. and Hawke's Bay Regional Council, which owns the park itself, had increased mitigation efforts.

This was not enough to deter thieves on Sunday from breaking into the car of a Hastings resident, who did not want to be named, taking a handbag containing her phone, wallet, and diary, as well as $600 in cash, a puffer jacket, Ray Ban glasses and an iPad.

"When I got back from my walk I saw a lot of people hanging around the front [of my car] and when I realised - it was shattering," she said.

"I hid the bag under my front seat but they must have seen the corner of it."

She had been going to the park every weekend for about 18 months and said she often noticed smashed glass on the tarmac.

On Sunday the car next to hers had also been broken into but she did not think anything had been taken from it. The other car hit was parked closer to the park entry and had $500 stolen.

"They got a lot of easy money yesterday," she said.

"The people must be very quick because its a busy place."

Regional council asset manager for open spaces Stephen Cave said they had been aware break-ins were happening "for quite some time".

"It's on our radar and we are looking at what options there are to try and resolve it," he said.

An increase in thefts since Christmas meant six weeks ago trees in the carpark had been pruned and lifted to improve visibility and Armourguard had been engaged for multiple daily patrols.

If patrols were not solving the issues the next step would be looking at some kind of camera system, Mr Cave said.

Council was rallying with local authorities and police to catch the culprits.

"It's a wonderful park and this has really taken the shine off it."

Park users spoken to said there had been suggestions of cameras, or a "tagging" system to try to make the park safer.

Some, like Hastings resident Susan Hawken, went only on the weekend when a coffee cart was in the carpark.

She used to walk her labrador in the park six days a week for three years before her car was broken into in February. Luckily, she had no valuables in her car at the time.

Ms Hawken said the park was "the nicest place to go in Hawke's Bay" but because she had used her one insurance claim for broken glass, she did not "want to risk it again".

Jennie, who did not want her last name to be printed, said the thefts had been an issue for the past 18 years she had used the park.

"It's been happening readily for a quite a long time now, but it's been increasing over the last year," she said.

"I don't feel safe, so I don't have anything in my car."

Police were aware of Sunday's thefts and had released warnings to users about thefts since 2013.

- Hawkes Bay Today

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