Burglars frustrate playcentre mums

By Peter de Graaf

The mums at a playcentre hit by at least five break-ins since October are appealing to Kerikeri residents to help them beat the burglars.

Kerikeri Playcentre, on Landing Rd just uphill from Kerikeri Basin, is a parent-run cooperative with 25 families on its books and four morning sessions a week.

Those parents, however, are becoming increasingly frustrated by ongoing break-ins.

The first was in the last school holidays; the most recent the weekend before last.

Stolen items include two cameras (which means parents can no longer document their children's work); an iPod and portable speakers; two old laptops; and small amounts of cash and food.

The burglars twice smashed in the office door and went to great lengths to find and break open the playcentre's "lock box".

Cooperative member Shelley Robinson said they had taken police advice to improve security by removing plants from the front fence for better visibility, changing the locks and getting a deadlock fitted.

The playcentre had spent close to $500 so far and would have to fork out at least $200 more for a safe.

"We're trying to be as proactive as we can, but we're limited to how much we can spend. We're spending all our money on locks and keys instead of play equipment."

It was clear the break-ins were linked, she said. In one case the burglars returned for the remote control to an iPod docking station stolen in an earlier raid.

Another parent, Danielle Petterd, said the ongoing burglaries were "really frustrating". While the playcentre was insured they had to pay excess and would have to start fundraising in the New Year to cover the shortfall.

She appealed to Kerikeri residents to keep an eye on the playcentre, especially over the Christmas holidays, and report anything suspicious to the police. The centre would open one morning a week during summer but there was never any reason for teenagers to be in the grounds.

Mrs Robinson also urged parents to ask questions if electronic equipment turned up at home without explanation.

"If little Johnny comes home with a new camera, mum and dad should ask where he got it."Items taken include a blue Fujifilm Finepix XP20 camera, a blue Apple 8GB iPod and a Logitech Pure-Fi docking station. If you know where they are, or have any information about the burglaries, call Kerikeri police on (09) 407 9211 or Crimestoppers, anonymously, on 0800 555 111. And if you see a burglary in progress, call 111.

- Northern Advocate

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