Garden fence and culprit still missing

By Kristin Edge

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A Whangarei family is still without a garden fence after a motorist smashed through the wooden palings and drove off.

Ross Smith, of Murdoch Crescent, reported the crash to police last Friday after "a huge bang" woke him about 3am. The driver took off towards Whangarei in what Mr Smith suspected was a badly damaged car.

He was concerned that police failed to arrive promptly after he called them, because he and his family had been left shaken.

Mr Smith rang again about 5am to see if police were coming and it was only after another call about 9.30am that an officer arrived.

After Northern Advocate inquiries, Whangarei area commander Inspector Tracy Phillips said police had been dispatched to the job and searched nearby streets for the car.

Ms Phillips said police units were advised at 3.16am that a car had collided with a fence and left. The police were also provided with the direction in which the car was travelling.

"Ideally, we should have called Mr Smith back to advise him that no units were available at that time," Ms Phillips said.

That was normally done from the Northern Communication Centre based in Auckland at the request of local police.

Ms Phillips said a unit had been assigned but was unable to go to the house straight away.

"They were tied up at the time dealing with a 'taxing' or robbery involving gang members," she said.

Mr Smith had been unable to provide a vehicle registration and described the car as a Nissan or Mitsubishi. "So there were no real lines of inquiry with a registered owner at their home address," Ms Phillips said.

Police did not make contact with Mr Smith and decided to deal with the scene and attend at a more sociable time.

Ms Phillips had tried to call Mr Smith after the crash but was unable to make contact.

"While I can understand that Mr Smith thinks that we did not attend, we did have to prioritise our work," she said.

Mr Smith said he had insurance assessors at the house on Monday and was told he would have to pay $400 excess to have the damaged section of the fence rebuilt.

He hoped the errant driver would front up and pay the repair bill.

- NORTHERN ADVOCATE

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