Man blames gambling for smash-and-grab spree

By Imran Ali -
The ram raid by Taitama Roma at Dargaville Honda Motorcycles during a spate of burglaries in September. Photo / Michael Cunningham
The ram raid by Taitama Roma at Dargaville Honda Motorcycles during a spate of burglaries in September. Photo / Michael Cunningham

A criminal who committed a ram raid and several smash-and-grab burglaries - writing a police car off along the way - blames gambling for the crime spree.

Taitama Roma pleaded guilty in the Dargaville District Court yesterday to 16 charges mostly connected to burglaries in central Dargaville on September 22.

Those charges include seven of burglary, two of theft of motor vehicles, two of aggravated assault against police officers, two of failing to stop, and one of reckless driving.

After his arrest, Roma told officers he never wanted to hurt them but merely wanted to escape.

Roma said he had a gambling problem and committed the burglaries after losing all his money on pokies.

He was remanded in custody for sentencing on November 24.

According to a police summary of facts, Roma broke into the Dargaville Warehouse about 3.50am on September 17 and stole three cellphones valued at $387.

Five days later, he broke into the Dargaville Diesel Services in the early morning hours and drove away in a Mitsubishi Canter truck worth $15,000.

Using a tyre iron from the stolen truck, Roma smashed windows of four businesses in town and stole small sums of money.

He then used the stolen truck to ram raid the front doors and a wall of the Dargaville Honda Motorcycles at 4.21am and stole four chainsaws worth $3500.

A police pursuit began and on Waihue Rd, Roma reversed the stolen truck into a marked police car.

The car, worth about $40,000, was a write-off.

He then turned around and headed back towards town. An officer in a patrol car had to take evasive action twice.

Roma abandoned the stolen truck on Waimata Rd before stealing a Honda car from a farmhouse. He drove to Baylys Beach where he was seen by a fisheries officer.

He drove on to various roads before stopping on a farm property and fleeing on foot.

He was arrested a short time later after hiding in a bush.

Police recovered a number of items from the stolen car, including a money box and a receipt from two shops he burgled into hours earlier.

Three of the four chainsaws stolen from Honda Motorcycles were recovered from the stolen truck.

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