As Northland's police, emergency services and electricity linesmen struggled through the storm to keep people safe, some of the region's criminal fraternity took the wild weather as cover for their nefarious activities, with at least six burglaries reported.

Wild weather on Tuesday and overnight into yesterday stretched Northland's emergency services with dozens of callouts to the Fire Service, police dealing with flooding and blocked roads and lines workers from Northpower and Top Energy working to reconnect more than 17,000 homes that had been cut off as winds up to 160km/h lashed the region.

But, Northland police communications manager Sarah Kennett said, some criminals used the wild weather as cover to carry out their dirty deeds, with burglaries recorded in Ruakaka, Otangarei, Raumanga and Dargaville during the worst of the storm.

Ms Kennett said it appeared that the wild weather may have drowned out any noises made by the thieves. About 7.20pm on Tuesday the alarm went off at the Whangarei Racing Club, on Peter Snell Dr, Ruakaka, and as the track manager went to the clubrooms to have investigate, he saw a green Toyota parked under a tree. The vehicle took off when the man passed and when he got to the clubrooms he saw that a window had been broken in the bar area and two brand new 40-inch Sony televisions had been taken.


Overnight Tuesday and Wednesday a large, heavy generator was stolen from the back of a truck parked on a property in Jack St, Otangarei.

The generator was tied down under a tarpaulin and was hooked to an alarm, which went, off, but the owner did not hear it over the noise of the storm, Mr Kennett said.

Also overnight a scrap metal dealer on Kepa Rd, Ruakaka was broken into after thieves smashed down a timber fence and rifled through the till in the office.

Nothing was believed to have been stolen and details of the other three burglaries were still to be established.

Ms Kennett said the six burglaries were not a particularly high number, but it was disappointing that while many people were out in the storm trying to improve things for so many people, some decided to use it as an opportunity to steal.

She said anybody who saw suspicious activities in the area, or at any time, should bring Whangarei police on 09 4702500 or anonymously to Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.