Kelly Makiha is the Rotorua Daily Post's head of news

Police suspect same thieves behind liquor store burglaries

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Police suspect the same group of thieves are behind three burglaries at suburban Rotorua liquor stores in five days.

Springfield Liquor on Otonga Rd was ram-raided in the early hours of yesterday morning by at least three men in a stolen car.

The offenders stole about $1000 worth of cigarettes and created significant damage to the front of the store after the car rammed the front of it four times.

The car was found a short time later on Manuka Cres near the tennis courts.

Police revealed today there were two other similar burglaries at liquor stores in Rotorua in the early hours of Wednesday and Friday night last week.

In all three, offenders appeared to be targeting cigarettes and alcohol.

Senior Constable Sililo Levae of the Rotorua police Tactical Crime Unit said the first burglary happened at 12.45am on Wednesday March 23 at Super Liquor at the Owhata shops on Te Ngae Rd. A cabinet of cigarettes was taken.

He said it appeared the thieves used the same method as those who burgled the Springfield store. CCTV footage revealed the thieves went to the store in a stolen car but didn't need it to ram the front of the store as they were able to jimmy open the front door, he said.

The stolen car was found a short time later burnt out nearby Lee Rd with the empty cabinet of cigarettes inside.

On Friday last week at 10.30pm the front window was smashed at Redwood Liquorland in the Redwood Shopping Centre. Bottles of spirits were stolen.

"It appears the commodity they are after is cigarettes."

Mr Levae hoped members of the public would be able to recognise the man in the Springfield burglary CCTV footage wearing shorts. He said he looked similar to a man caught on CCTV footage committing the Owhata store burglary.

"At the moment locals need to be aware there appears to be a group targeting commercial liquor stores in the suburbs and to be aware of any suspicious activity. It's likely they are the same people because they are using a stolen car to do their mission and are dumping it soon after."

He said locals should also be wary of anyone trying to sell cheap cigarettes.
Information can be passed on to Mr Levae by calling (07) 349 9400 or by making an anonymous call to 0800 CRIMESTOPPERS.

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