The efforts of three girls to help homeless families has been "trampled on" after children's clothing and toys they fundraised for were stolen from a car in Arataki.
Fiona Stanelun, 12, Rose Tustin, 11, and Opal Nilsen, 12, from the Arataki Division Girl Guides, raised money and goods through a bake sale to gift to the homeless families at Whare Tauranga, an initiative of Te Tuinga Whanau Support Services Trust to temporarily house homeless families and help them into stable housing.
On Tuesday the girls met with Te Tuinga mentoring manager John Gibson to hand over what they had raised - which came to almost $600 worth of new children's clothing, sports equipment, board games, food and linen.
Mr Gibson collected the items in his car, which was parked on Kaimanawa St and broken into sometime between Wednesday night and yesterday morning.
He estimated about a quarter of the donated items were stolen.
His work laptop and CDs were stolen and some petrol was siphoned from his car. One of the windows of his car was smashed during the theft.
The three girls had chosen Whare Tauranga for their fundraising efforts to earn a community work badge.
"They liked the kaupapa [purpose] behind it and wanted to help," Mr Gibson said. "They did a cookie and baking sale and raised some money and got all these items donated.
"I feel really bad that these young girls' mana has been trampled on."
It was sadly ironic that the thefts were likely done by the very people Te Tuinga Whanau and Whare Tauranga aimed to help, Mr Gibson said.
Rose Tustin said she was disappointed when she heard of the thefts because she and her friends had worked hard for a long time to fundraise and get donations.
"We went to the effort to raise it all and give it to Whare Tauranga.
"It took us a term or two to fundraise and get the stuff."
Krista Davis, who established the Live For More trust to help young people find
freedom from drugs, alcohol and crime, also had her car broken into the same night in Arataki.
"Nothing seems to have been taken although I had nothing extremely valuable to take. I reckon it is someone after cash for hard drugs, sadly. Ironically I run a charity which works with people in those situations and helps them move away from those lifestyles."
Senior Sergeant Deidre O'Donnell said Tauranga Police had yesterday morning received seven reports of cars being broken into and windows smashed on Seaspray Drive, Matawai St, Korowai St, Tudor Pl and Grenada St.
She said Tauranga Police had committed a team to the investigation and scene attendance had been prioritised to ensure police had the best opportunity to catch those responsible.
"Police will also be dedicating more staff resources overnight in this area to try and prevent similar crime occurring."
If you have any information to help police apprehend those responsible, please contact Senior Sergeant Deidre O'Donnell on 07 577 4300 or talk to Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.
What can the public do to help?
• Report all suspicious activity by dialling 111
• If able, park cars in well-lit and secure areas such as driveways and off the road
• Ensure vehicles are locked
• Ensure valuables and personal items are not left in vehicles
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