Call for rural watch group as thefts mount

By Mike Dinsdale

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A Whangarei woman "sick and tired" of thieves targeting her rural community wants to set up a neighbourhood watch to stop stuff "disappearing".

Joan Dempster, from Opuawhanga, about 30km north of Whangarei, said her rural area had been a target for thieves in recent months, with anything that wasn't nailed down seemingly taken, and she'd had enough.

"I'm sick and tired of everything disappearing. We've had farm gates going, four-wheel bikes, and one neighbour even had three sheep taken," Ms Dempster said.

"We even had a large piece of machinery stripped on one of the local properties and I've had a gutsful."

She had contacted the Whangarei police officer in charge of setting up neighbourhood watch teams and as soon as she had a suitable date from police she would set up a public meeting at Opuawhanga Hall for anybody keen to be part of such a group.

"It's not just us at Opuawhanga, but [nearby] Otonga has been hit as well, so people from there may want to be part, and even folks from Whananaki."

Ms Dempster said the area was getting great coverage from senior constables Gavin Benney and Russell Rawiri from their nearest police station at Hikurangi.

"But they can't be everywhere all the time. We've got to do something about it ourselves and organise to keep an eye out for each other," she said.

Some locals had got to the stage that they were scared to go out for fear they'd return to find something else stolen.

She said police had told her there had been suspicious cars - one green and the other white - that had been seen regularly cruising the area and people should keep an eye out for them.

Anybody keen to be part of a neighbourhood watch group in the Opuawhanga, Otonga or Whananaki areas can get in touch with Ms Dempster at joandempster@gmail.co.nz

- NORTHERN ADVOCATE

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