Bar's threat alarms police

By Tracey Roxburgh of the Otago Daily Times

Boss says web post vowing death to eftpos thieves was satire but officers not amused.

File photo / NZ Herald
File photo / NZ Herald

A Queenstown bar, which used a social networking site to threaten to kill two "lads" who allegedly stole its mobile eftpos machine last month, received a visit from Queenstown police yesterday.

However, Skybar director Daniel Taiaroa said the posting "was obviously meant as satire" and "satire ... is not illegal".

Skybar, sold by Goodbars late last year, reported the theft of the machine - allegedly stolen on January 26 or 27 - to police on Tuesday.

That evening, the bar posted two images, taken from CCTV cameras, of the alleged offenders.

Along with the images, the bar sent a message to the men via its Facebook page, using an almost verbatim quote from the movie Taken.

"I don't know who you are. I don't know what you want. If you are looking for a ransom, I can tell you I don't have money. But what I do have are a very particular set of skills; skills I have acquired over a very long career. Skills that make me a nightmare for people like you.

"If you return my terminal now, that'll be the end of it. I will not look for you, I will not pursue you. But if you don't, I will look for you, I will find you, and I will kill you."

By yesterday afternoon the post had gained 215 "likes".

Senior Sergeant John Fookes, of Queenstown, said the posting was "pretty unwise".

"It's a threat to kill somebody. Legally speaking, the threat to kill or do grievous bodily harm to somebody in most circumstances is likely to be an offence." The maximum penalty for either offence was seven years' imprisonment.

Police had to look at "all of the circumstances around it", but "at best it's unwise and at worst it's unlawful", Mr Fookes said.

"My recommendation would be that it be removed and that anybody considering something with that same punch line at the end of it to think long and hard because it's not really appropriate."

In an email, Mr Taiaroa said the posting had received a "huge amount of public support" and thousands of views. "This public support is a tribute to the good humour in which the post was intended, as well as bringing to light the abhorrent behaviour by these individuals."

- Otago Daily Times

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