Nikki Preston

Nikki Preston is a Herald reporter based in Hamilton.

Thieves and vandals hit Thames businesses

Amber Lenihan of Brew Cafe says thieves left freezers open to defrost and threw eggs around before stealing $800 of spirits and beer. Photo / Christine Cornege
Amber Lenihan of Brew Cafe says thieves left freezers open to defrost and threw eggs around before stealing $800 of spirits and beer. Photo / Christine Cornege

A Thames cafe and restaurant owner has been burgled 12 times in the past year and says little is being done to curb the growing number of thefts in the town.

Other residents and businesses targeted - including one where a security guard was beaten - say the past month has been horrific for crime.

In the past two weeks the library, golf club, racing club, council headquarters and rugby club - as well as businesses and homes - have been broken into.

Brew Cafe manager Amber Lenihan said she and her mother, who also owns Rocco Bar and Restaurant, were considering closing the businesses after a total of 12 break-ins costing $10,000.

In the latest burglary, on the night of December 21, thieves smashed a window to steal $800 of spirits and beer from the cafe.

"They are a little bit arrogant now ... they opened the door of every freezer and propped them up so things would be defrosted, and got trays of eggs and threw them around."

Brew Cafe was burgled seven times last year and Rocco, which backs onto the Thames police station, was targeted five times.

TCA Gym co-owner and long-time Thames resident Dave McCoid said: "There's something definitely amiss in the town. Thames is an old demographic - there's quite a high percentage of retired people - so it should have an extremely low crime rate."

The Thames Golf Club's grounds suffered thousands of dollars of damage when a scooter was stolen on the night of January 3 and golf carts were taken on joyrides.

On the same night security guard Mark Hoskin was bashed and gouged in the eyes when he interrupted five intruders at Thames Race Course.

Three days earlier vandals had broken into the club, pulling out all the audio equipment onto the floor.

They had left a graffiti message reading: "Haha you asshole, catch me if you can."

During the second break-in, tomato sauce was splattered all over the walls and windows.

Thames resident Aaron Turoa, whose cars were broken into on Boxing Day, said the attack on Mr Hoskin was the catalyst for setting up Facebook group Thames Stop the Crime.

The Facebook group has grown to nearly 400 members and a community meeting with police held last week attracted 100 people.

"In Thames there are a lot of people that are old, they are alone, they are scared," said Mr Turoa. "For the businesses here, it's hard enough to make a living here normally without getting robbed every week."

Senior Sergeant Graham Shields said there had been a spate of burglaries but they had declined after the police arrested some suspects.

While one burglary a night "was a big problem for a little town like Thames", he said it was nothing compared with Hamilton where there could be 10 a night.

- NZ Herald

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