Fed up with theft and vandalism

By Peter Jackson

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Some Kaitaia businesses will go to the wall if nothing is done about ongoing thefts and vandalism, a business owner says.

Mussel Rock owner Dave Collard said 104 commercial burglaries had been committed in Kaitaia during the past three months, along with four instances of major damage to windows. He suspected there were more.

Some businesses were in a precarious position and could not keep carrying the cost of thefts and damage, he said.

Craig Harrison, of Harrison Cape Reinga Tours, said his family's business brought 20,000 people to Kaitaia every year, many of whom believed the town had a problem.

"Tourists are getting to know this isn't a safe place ... When you start putting up roller doors it isn't a good look. You drive around this town at 3am and you'll see people everywhere. They see a police car head out of town and they're into it."

He believed the answer was to invest in the best security cameras available and monitor them around the clock using volunteers.

Another business owner, Graham Eccles, had more faith in police dogs, saying Kaitaia had many dark corners where thieves could hide but they wouldn't get away if a dog was immediately available. His shop had been broken into four times in a month and he knew of one business owner who was sleeping in a van next to his premises to prevent further break-ins.

They were speaking at a public meeting called last Thursday to air concerns about ongoing burglaries and what some saw as inadequate police response. A similar meeting on the same night in Kawakawa discussed youth crime and police cuts.

Attending the Kaitaia meeting were Northland MP Mike Sabin, Kaitaia's top cop Senior Sergeant Geoff Ryan and Far North area commander Inspector Wendy Robilliard.

Ms Robilliard said the town's problem with juvenile and youth offending was complex, and everyone in the community had to be part of the solution.

Mr Ryan said offenders 14 and over were placed under a curfew and would be actively checked to ensure compliance.

"It's only a small percentage of the youth population that is offending, but in many cases the behaviour is ingrained," Mr Ryan said. Most youth offending was motivated by the desire to get money to buy alcohol, he said.

The meeting agreed to set up a working group to come up with a strategy including the use of security cameras and finding volunteers to monitor them. Shirley Williams of the Kaitaia Business Association said a security camera upgrade would be the group's top priority. It would also be looking at lighting in the CBD.

Mr Sabin said he had drafted a private Member's Bill to give courts the power to impose bail conditions on the parents of wayward children and hold them accountable for their children's offending.

- Northern Advocate

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