Be alert despite arrest - police

By Kristin Edge, APNZ

A man with strong Northland links has been arrested after a series of Auckland home invasions, but police say the elderly should still be careful about their security.

William John Murphy, 36, allegedly was seen driving a stolen car on State Highway 1 north of the Puhoi toll tunnels, north of Auckland, about 8am yesterday. The car crashed soon after.

Murphy fled into the bush near Puhoi River, before a dog unit and the police Eagle helicopter found him hiding near Puhoi, police said.

He had surrendered without resistance.

Murphy was expected to appear in the North Shore District Court today.

Be alert despite arrest: Police

He had been sought by police after seven attacks on elderly people, and at the weekend Kaitaia police questioned locals.

Detective Senior Sergeant Kevin Bourke said Murphy had links in the Far North area and because of the publicity could have tried to head north.

The word was also put out on Facebook by the Houhora police, who alerted followers that Murphy was from Northland - the coastal community of Whatuwhiwhi and the Karikari Peninsula.

"A lot of you will know him - please keep an eye out for him as he may run for home and hide," the Facebook post said.

Police allege the most recent attack was carried out on a 74-year-old woman in her Pakuranga council flat on Saturday.

A man who told her he wanted to offer her security advice is alleged to have tied her hands with shoelaces and beaten her viciously before taking bank cards, cash and personal items.

Neighbours found the woman half-naked, hands tied, and face covered in blood.

Twenty police staff from Auckland, Counties Manukau and Waitemata had been working fulltime on the investigation.

The other victims of the attacks, aged 69 to 97, were based in Remuera, Orewa, Takapuna, Northcote, Herne Bay and Westmere. Police have not ruled out the possibility of other offenders being involved.

Detective Inspector Karyn Malthus, of Auckland City CIB, said the investigation still had a long way to go and it was important people keep an open mind about the possibility others were involved in some of the incidents.

"We remain concerned about the safety of our elderly being targeted and are yet to determine the identity of the offender purporting to be a police officer in various guises."

Beryl Wilkinson, president of Age Concern in Whangarei, said the organisation was constantly reminding elderly residents about the dangers of home invasion and scammers looking to take advantage of older people.

"We're very aware in Whangarei to be cautious of how you respond to anyone at the door."

After a burglary at the Age Concern office in Manse Street last week, police told staff to warn elderly people to call 111 if they sensed anything unusual outside their house, Ms Wilkinson said.

"If there is a message to give, we've got to tell our old people, 'Don't hold back on ringing 111'. I'm now strongly endorsing that statement.

"Don't open the door unless you know who that person is."

- Northern Advocate

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