Copper thieves back in action

By Peter de Graaf

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Copper thieves have struck Bay of Islands Hospital and stripped a building of valuable downpipes.

About 12 metres of four-inch (10cm) diameter copper downpipes were stolen from the community mental heath facility in Kawakawa's hospital complex on Monday night.

Senior Sergeant Peter Robinson, of Kerikeri police, urged anyone with information about the theft to call the Kawakawa police station on (09) 404 3150. Anonymous tips could also be passed to Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.

The health board, like all other public organisations, had a fixed budget so extra maintenance and repairs meant less money for other areas, potentially affecting health programmes.

"They're attacking a public asset that provides a service to the community, possibly also to their own family and friends," Mr Robinson said.

Local scrap dealers had been contacted and asked to be on the alert.

Copper thefts tended to be cyclical but had eased off recently in the Mid North, Mr Robinson said.

Bay of Islands Hospital operations manager Shirley August said the theft was "a great disappointment".

"Now we have to divert money towards something that did not need replacing, and will not be able to use that money for the health of our community," she said.

Meanwhile, police are still looking for the people behind a brazen theft of spouting and downpipes from Kaitaia Primary School during the summer.

The copper was stolen in broad daylight on the morning of January 5. Despite high-resolution CCTV images showing a man on the roof passing guttering to a woman on the ground below, no one has been able to identify the offenders.

Anyone with information about the Kaitaia theft, or who can identify the people, should call Houhora police on (09) 409 8822 or Kaitaia police on (09) 408 6500.

- Northern Advocate

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