A prolonged spate of "dumb" crimes by young thieves has business owners in Kaitaia's main street feeling under seige.
Restaurants, service stations, motels and a tavern on Commerce St have been repeatedly targeted since the New Year, with thieves smashing windows to enter and make off with liquor, tobacco and other goods - even a 50-inch television was walked down the road from a motel by the young robbers.
But while business owners are reeling, Kaitaia police Senior Sergeant Geoff Ryan said yesterday that although there had been a spike in this type of offending in the past couple of months, it wasn't unusual and he expected the incidence of such crimes to remain roughly the same as previous years.
He said they were "dumb" crimes committed by about 25 people, aged from early teens to late 20s who were known to police.
"The primary target for these offenders is liquor. When they run out of alcohol they try stealing some more or they go after goods they can sell to buy more liquor," Mr Ryan said.
The latest robbery was at the Orana Motor Inn, where burglars broke a front window to enter and steal liquor at 1am on Saturday.
Inn co-owner Chris Aitken kept watch and scared off two people who returned at 3.35am. The pair fled on foot.
After putting plywood over the broken window, Mr Aitken thought the intruders would not be back.
But when he woke at 2.30am on Sunday and looked out of his upstairs bedroom window he spotted someone wearing a hoody lurking in an area between the inn and a church next door.
He called police, who arrived promptly and arrested two youths, one aged 18, the other 14.
They and others had allegedly entered the inn through a window, loaded liquor from the restaurant bar into a milk crate and rubbish bin and were carrying it away.
Mr Aitken returned to his bed, but at 3.30am he heard his car start and by the time he got downstairs it was gone. He had not noticed earlier that the keys to the gold-coloured Ford Falcon XR6, registration number BLJ183, had been taken from the restaurant bar.
Following police advice, Mr Aitken is planning to put burglar-proof screens and loud alarms around the motor inn bar.
Mr Ryan said business selling alcohol were advised to make liquor less accessible to thieves.
Police had identified and charged offenders with most of the Commerce St break-ins. Very few of these crimes remained unsolved.
In court, police asked for stringent bail conditions and closely monitored offenders. Sixty checks on bailed offenders had been made in the past week.
Mr Ryan said the real issue was around how alcohol was abused and the community as a whole had a role to play setting expectations in relation to alcohol.
Meanwhile a Kaitaia youth was airlifted to Whangarei by rescue helicopter early on Sunday with suspected alcohol poisoning.
And a "very drunk" young male detained by police when discovered in a Grigg St yard early on Sunday was later found to be aged 14.