A major police search which could be linked to the violent death of Thai woman Jindarat Prutsiriporn, is under way at a property in Mangere with forensic officers digging up parts of the yard and rifling through rubbish bins.
The Herald can reveal that the search began late on Wayne Drive on Friday night. It is understood a resident was taken away from the house by police on Friday night and officers arrived soon after.
A resident on the street told the Herald that the owner of the house was in Gisborne and her son had been living there. She believed they were a Thai family.
She said the house has been under police guard for most of the weekend and officers are stopping all cars that approach the address. However, police will not say why they are at the house.
The Herald asked police whether the search was part of the investigation into the death of Jindarat Prutsiriporn last week.
The 50-year-old Thai woman was bound and gagged and died after she was injured jumping out of a car boot in South Auckland.
Detective Inspector Dave Lynch, the head of Operation Sisal, would not be drawn on whether the search was linked to Ms Prutsiriporn's violent death.
"My only comment is that police are following a number of lines of investigation," he said.
"At this stage there will be no further comment on any specific lines of inquiry or operational activity."
While he was tight-lipped on the reason for the activity at the house Mr Lynch said it posed no risk to the community.
Sue Tolomaki, 68, lives next door to the property police are positioned at. She heard a lot of banging and noise at the property on Thursday night and then saw officers come on Friday night.
"The Thai man who lives there often comes and goes at weird hours of the night but there was a particularly large amount of noise on Thursday night and then there's been officers there since. There was officers with guns on the street yesterday which was quite scary. There's lot of kids around here."
Lavi Vetlino, 19, lives across the road. "We were all out on the balcony when we saw the police come... It's normally a really quiet street. Well, until now."
Another man who lives near the Mangere house, where police in white boiler suits spent most of yesterday, said officers at the scene were also refusing to say why they were there.
"You ask them anything and they'll just say: 'Oh yeah...we'll talk about that later," he said.
"All we know is the young fella has been in a bit of trouble. The woman next door to us - she's down in Gisborne away somewhere and the son's home... But the cops won't tell us anything."
Another woman at a neighbouring property said she saw three men being taken away by police on Friday night.
"I saw the police come and jump over the fence but there was no one was home. A Caucasian man I've never seen before pulled up and police took him away. The son came about half an hour later with another Thai guy and police took them both away."
The woman heard digging at the property yesterday. "Four officers came back yesterday.
Two officers stood at the front of the house and two officers were digging with spades around the garage out the back. My neighbour said it looked like they were trying to crack a concrete slab."
The woman said she saw officers searching a car at the property as well.
Another resident posted on Facebook about the scene examination at the house.
"Woke up this afternoon to heaps of cops at the neighour's and people scaling the property. Scary. Things like this you only see on TV. Too close for comfort," she said.
She said police had asked her to turn off her lights because they were reflecting on the backyard next door.
"They were using those blue light things," she said.
"It must be something serious because the house has been guarded by armed police all weekend..."
A policeman is standing outside the property.
A woman who has lived next door to the property for eight years said she'd never seen police on her "quiet little street" before.
"I wouldn't have a clue what's going on. Nothing like this has ever happened. There's only a couple of rentals on the street. We're mostly all homeowners with families; retirees and other people who want the quiet life."
The woman said she knew the Thai woman who lived at the property and would have wine with her on occasion. "We [residents in the street] mostly all stick to ourselves but we all say hello to one another and wish each other Merry Christmas. I feel for [the neighbour].
I can't imagine what she's going through." Another man who had lived on the street for about 10 years told the Herald he had also never seen police hanging around the area. "I've asked police but they won't tell me anything."
Another resident of the Mangere Street said she was just coming back from a walk about 6pm on Friday when she saw three mufti police vehicles pull up in front of the property.
"At least 8 police officers got out and tried to open the gate but it was locked so they jumped over the fence. I had my daughter with me so I rushed us inside and left the police to it."
The woman believed a Thai woman and her son, who was about 20 years old, were the only people who lived at the property.
"We don't really see or talk to them but I know they're Thai; they're from Bangkok."
IF YOU HAVE INFORMATION THAT COULD HELP THE OPERATION SISAL TEAM INVESTIGATING THE DEATH OF JINDARAT PRUTSIRIPORN CALL 0508 422443.