Fears man following women in Redwoods

By Kelly Makiha, Rebecca Malcolm -
Dog exercise area off Long Mile Road. Photo/Stephen Parker
Dog exercise area off Long Mile Road. Photo/Stephen Parker

Police say they have identified a man alleged to have been following women in the Redwoods but ask members of the public to still take care while walking in the area.

Two women have made official complaints in the past three weeks to Rotorua police about a man they believed was following them in the dog walking area of the Redwoods, Inspector Bruce Horne of the Rotorua police said.

"We have identified who the person is and we will be following it up."

Mr Horne said he couldn't go into detail about the man because there was an active investigation.

"We are yet to talk to this person."

Mr Horne said in the meantime, people should be careful and call police on 111 if they were approached or saw anything suspicious.

"From the reports we have officially received . . . there is nothing to suggest that he has acted violently or people have been in any serious risk but clearly and understandably people are concerned about the behaviour."

Walkers are advised to take photographs of anyone they suspected of acting suspiciously.

"Most people carry a phone with them these days. Take a photo. That's really helpful. People that are causing problems don't like having their photos taken."

Mr Horne said there had been several occasions where small tip offs from members of the public had led to break throughs.

"Calls about suspicious behaviour really are gold. When your gut is telling you something is not right, then really it isn't."

Mr Horne said in general terms if people were receiving unwanted attention, such as someone following them in a way that's causing them distress, there were offences that covered that, including disorderly behaviour.

One woman, who did not want to be named for safety reasons, said she was first followed by the man in the dog walking area about three weeks ago.

She said when she ran away he started running too, and he would slow down and walk when she did. While the man didn't directly approach or threaten her, it was enough to scare her, she said.

"I ran out to the road. It was the one day I didn't have my cellphone on me."

The woman said she met another person on the road who phoned police.

The woman said she had been walking her dog in the area for more than 20 years and it was the first time that she had ever had any incidents.

"I've never been so frightened. You think you're tough and you're not when it really comes down to it."

The incident hadn't stopped her from walking in the area.

"I won't allow this to stop me. I absolutely love [that walk]."

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