Truckies were among members of the public who provided information on the movements of a man who allegedly broke into seven businesses in Dargaville, including a ram raid on a business that had been burgled twice already this year.
Police and a Dargaville business leader have applauded public help that led to the arrest of a 26-year-old man known to police who is likely to face a string of charges, including ramming a patrol car during one of two pursuits. They say it's only through public help that thieves can be caught.
The patrol car is possibly a write-off, although no officers were injured.
All the burglaries and a ram raid at Dargaville Honda Motorcycles on Jervois St happened yesterday, between 3am and 4.30am.
It was the third separate spate of burglaries of commercial properties in central Dargaville since May and Dargaville Honda Motorcycles has been targeted twice during that period.
The Victoria St Superette in Dargaville was ram-raided in May, while the Ruakaka Gas station, Towai Gas station, Gasoline Alley in Parua Bay were burgled.
Last weekend, thieves ram-raided the BP service station on SH10 in Kaeo and the BP service station in Waipapa.
During the latest burglary spree in Dargaville, a Mitsubishi Canter truck was stolen from a business premises and used to ram through the main entrance and adjacent building at Dargaville Honda Motorcycles at 4.21am.
A safe containing an undisclosed amount of cash and four chainsaws worth about $3500 were stolen.
Dargaville Pizza and Indian Restaurant on the corner of Jervois St and Gladstone Rd was also targeted and a CCTV camera was ripped off a wall behind the counter.
Manager Parminder Singh said glass on the bottom half of the front door was smashed to gain entry and a cash register containing $600 to $700 cash, a laptop, and a cellphone were taken.
He opened the business only two months ago and said to suffer in this way was extremely disappointing.
The business next door, I-Deal Demo run by Sharon Constable, was broken into too and the office ransacked but nothing was taken.
"It's disappointing in a small town like ours where there's no multi-million dollar property owners spending up large. Businesses are already struggling," she said.
Police intercepted the alleged offender on Parore St about 4.45am and a pursuit began after he failed to stop the stolen truck. The police car was rammed during the chase which was abandoned about 15 minutes later on Waimata Rd.
About an hour later, the man allegedly took a Honda car from a residential premises and another short pursuit began.
He allegedly abandoned the car on Mt Wesley Coast Rd and tried to escape on foot over farmland but was arrested.
Peter Boyd, chairman of the Dargaville Business Forum, said commercial operators needed to be educated to use security cameras more and have things such as cash registers and safes well bolted down.
"They can't do much to stop ram raids but they can improve security measures and be more aware of what's happening around town," he said. "Public help, particularly truck drivers this morning (yesterday), played a big role in locating the person responsible for the burglaries and it's something that should be encouraged."
Dargaville acting police Sergeant Craig Curnow said officers would not have been able to arrest the man as quickly as they did without public help. He said although officers heard an alarm go off, it was the public, including truck drivers, who constantly provided police with vital information that led to the arrest.
He said the man was likely to appear in the Whangarei District Court today.