Keeping an eye out on Matapouri baches

By Sophie Ryan

A woman who lives at a popular holiday spot on the Tutukaka Coast is hoping to form a community watch group after several break-ins and even reports of suspected squatters in empty baches.

Long-time Matapouri resident Elizabeth Fuge wants to collect contact details of every property owner in the area in an effort to create a community watch telephone tree.

"It's an idea that came to me from a guy out at Woolley's Bay and, when nothing like that was happening here, I thought I'd do it myself," she said.

She has had the assistance of a surveyor who has provided her with plans of the area and she hopes to be able to match up each house with the owner and some contact details.

People commonly rent out their baches and Mrs Fuge said the days were gone when she was able to recognise most of the people walking around the area.

"There have been people around the streets at odd hours, a couple of break-ins and I just don't want any owners getting a shock when they arrive up here."

Mrs Fuge said there had been two incidents of people breaking into baches and squatting.

"There have been some awful ones, someone was in [a bach] just before Christmas," she said.

Stephen Wilson uses his family bach at Matapouri two or three times a year and has received phone calls to say it has been broken into three times.

"It's often people looking for alcohol and we've also had our hot water tank stolen. It's frustrating and annoying," he said.

He thinks a community watch programme will certainly help, but not stop the issue of break-ins.

Mr Wilson said the thieves had got in through windows and it was very difficult to secure properties.

Mrs Fuge is confident she will have many permanent Matapouri residents on board to help keep an eye on things around the community.

The nearest police are stationed at Kamo and Hikurangi.

"It is all about the sense of community," she said.

- Northern Advocate

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