Workers gutted over invasion of youth centre

By Christine McKay

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DEVASTATED: Richard Harrison-Kamura checks out a door in the Allardice St centre which had been kicked in during a major robbery on Thursday night or early yesterday morning. PHOTO/CHRISTINE McKAY
DEVASTATED: Richard Harrison-Kamura checks out a door in the Allardice St centre which had been kicked in during a major robbery on Thursday night or early yesterday morning. PHOTO/CHRISTINE McKAY

When Rosie Whaitiri turned up for work at Tararua Community Youth Services in Dannevirke on Friday morning she was met with a mess which has left her devastated.

Thieves had smashed their way into the building on Allardice St, gaining access through a rear window, before destroying doors, cracking open deadlocks and staff believe, using a crowbar to lever a box from a wall before getting away with a number of valuable items.

The centre which serves the youth of Tararua was left in a shambles and youth workers "gutted."

"I'm disgusted and we feel invaded," youth worker Richard Harrison-Kamura told the Dannevirke News. "Ninety-nine per cent of the youth in Tararua are supported by this service and for something like this to happen . . ."

A call was made to police at 8.45am, however, staff had to close up the building at 3pm on Friday, disappointed police hadn't turned up, Jeanne O'Brien manager of Tararua youth services said.

"The culprits have been named and shamed on Facebook and now I'm worried there are kids in our community so angry at what has happened they're out there hunting the thieves down.

"We've had no support and no advice from the police, it's absolutely shocking. My staff have been here all day, waiting to clean up, but we've been told to just secure the building until forensics arrive next week. We are obliged by our contract to be open every day for the young people in this community and I'm disgusted by the lack of action by police.

"What if this burglary had happened and an elderly person was in our situation?"

Friday morning as youth services staff waited in vain for forensics to arrive they were able to tally up some of the missing items without disturbing evidence.

"Two laptop computers, a cell phone, camera, video camera and a brand-new data projector, along with food, a tray of coke cans and beanies have gone," Ms O'Brien said.

Lying open on the floor was a cheque book, but staff, not willing to disturb evidence, were unable to confirm if any had been stolen. Even the Dannevirke Band room had been smashed into and Ms O'Brien said she was in shock.

"I think it could be someone desperate," she said. "The young people who use this centre and my staff are the victims and in the 30 years I've been here nothing like this has happened before."

Unable to help young people who were arriving at the centre Friday morning, Richard said it was frustrating being in limbo.

"Whoever did this, they've put in a lot of effort, it's just unbelievable."

However, the youth workers at the centre all agreed the majority of the young people in our community respect the centre.

"This is their place," Ms O'Brien said. "Once the police have been we can get back to business. Dealing with this isn't good for our staff, but as long as no one was harmed, we'll get through it."

Footage from CCTV cameras in the youth centre and in the vicinity has helped identify the culprits and it appears the centre was "cased" late Thursday night, before being entered in the early hours of Friday.

- Hawkes Bay Today

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