Huge increases in robberies, burglaries, thefts and assaults in Hawke's Bay have been revealed in crime statistics for the year to the end of June.
According to the figures, reports of robberies in the Eastern Police District Hawke's Bay Area, quoted by Labour Party sources yesterday, increased from 96 in 2014-15 to 141 in the latest year - up 47 per cent.
Burglaries rose 29 per cent, from 2664 to 3435 - an area average of 286.25 a month or almost 10 a day - and reports of theft increased 13 per cent, from 5280 to 5982.
The figures show reports of assault totalled 2382 in the year to the end of June, up 15 per cent from the 2073 the previous year.
Coming as police investigate another robbery, that of the Meeanee Store on the southern outskirts of Napier mid-morning on Sunday, the figures were fodder for Napier MP Stuart Nash yesterday when he said claims by Minister of Police Judith Collins that crime rates were falling were "utterly wrong".
Nationally, robberies were up 12 per cent, burglaries 12 per cent, and assaults by more than 3000, he said, adding: "These new statistics make grim reading.
"They show a need for a return to traditional and community policing," he said.
"It's time the minister stood up for our hard-working police officers. There must be enough police officers to keep our communities safe."
Police in Hawke's Bay are dealing with several unsolved robbery inquiries from the past two months, but made a breakthrough with the latest yesterday after an abandoned - apparently borrowed - car used in the Sunday's raid was found.
The car, a white Honda Odyssey (registration EUE417) was found parked in the Lodge Rd-to-Geddis Ave section of Hillary Cres in suburban Maraenui, after a Crimestoppers call from a member of the public.
Detective Sergeant Glenn Restieaux, of Hawke's Bay CIB, said the vehicle was registered to a man in hospital in Wellington and family members were not implicated in the robbery.
Mr Restieaux said police needed to know who was using the vehicle on Sunday when the robbery of the Meeanee Store, in Meeanee Rd, happened about 10.30am.
Police want to know when the car may have been parked in the street, and about people disposing of the stolen cigarettes and tobacco, along with a small amount of cash.
It was also possible offenders had discarded some of their clothing, including beanies or other masks with eyeholes.
All three, one with a hammer and another with a knife, were dressed in black - "from head to toe", Mr Restieaux said.
While the female shop attendant who was confronted by the trio believed at least one was female, police yesterday were not assuming anything about the robbers.
The raid came amid growing police concerns about robberies in Hawke's Bay, the possibility that several people or groups could be involved and that there seemed little to link the robberies apart from hard-times, and the types of offences some young people commit for minimal gain compared with the possible jail time.
Police are investigating possible links between the robberies of Hastings bars Zabeel's, about 9.30 on Tuesday morning, June 7, and the Horse and Hound, about 10.30pm on Saturday, July 2. Both featured on the TV programme Police Ten 7 last week.
Police are investigating information supplied to police as a result of appeals on the programme.
Other robberies were early on the night of July 8, when a person appearing to be holding a weapon concealed under a cloth entered the Te Awa Dairy, Napier; an early-Thursday street-mugging in Raffles St, Napier, about 30 hours earlier, when a man was attacked by a young man wielding a skateboard and was robbed of a cellphone and his wallet; and the robbery of Waipawa's Four Square superette on Monday night, June 6.