Police speak to teen over destruction of elderly woman's home

By Kristin Edge of The Northern Advocate -
Pearl Sanger. Photo / John Stone
Pearl Sanger. Photo / John Stone

Police have interviewed a 15-year-old Tikipunga male believed to be linked to the burglary and arson that destroyed the home of 92-year-old widow Pearl Sanger.

Whangarei police Sergeant Dan Cleaver confirmed officers spoke with a teenager late yesterday after a house on Boundary Rd was broken into and then torched about 5.30am on July 15.

He has been referred to the Police Youth Aid section.

Pearl was due home the same day her house was set alight following a week in hospital recovering from a chest infection.

She was heartbroken she could not return to her home where she has lived for 30 years and had a collection of lifetime mementos.

Pearl remains in Radius Rimu Park, in Kamo, which offered two weeks of free care after learning of her plight.

Insurance will now cover the rest of her stay until she can move back into her renovated home.

Nephew Ray Broad was "bloody glad" police had finally tracked down someone but said it did not take away the trauma Pearl had experienced.

"She desperately wants to go home. It's been a big upheaval for her and something she didn't need at this age."

Mr Broad estimated it would take builders at least six weeks to complete the necessary work before Pearl could move back home.

"It's a massive job to repair the house. It needs a new roof as the fire got up in the ceiling.

"It needs to be recarpeted and repainted. It's all going to take time," he said.

Most items in the house would have to be replaced after a bed was set on fire and slowly smouldered, filling the house with smoke and resulting in a thick layer of soot covering most surfaces.

A television was stolen and about $140 cash was taken from a moneybox as well.

Mr Broad was overwhelmed by the public response and offers of help, and had tried to thank as many people as he could in person.

The Northern Advocate co-ordinated an appeal for Pearl and editor Craig Cooper said he hoped in some way, the public reaction to Pearl's plight had helped find who was responsible.

"The public's reaction creates that little extra pressure, that what happened was especially unjust, and who knows, it might have even helped identify who was responsible."

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