Mid North teen jailed for ramraids

By Peter de Graaf -
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A Mid North teenager has been jailed for three years for this ramraid at Stirling Sports in Waipapa last October, along with a string of other offences. Photo / Peter de Graaf
A Mid North teenager has been jailed for three years for this ramraid at Stirling Sports in Waipapa last October, along with a string of other offences. Photo / Peter de Graaf

A Northland teenager has been jailed for three years after repeated ram raids on a sportswear shop caused its owners massive financial and emotional harm.

Tosh Cooper, 18, of Kaikohe, was sentenced in the Kaikohe District Court on Friday after being found guilty in a judge-only trial. Judge Duncan Harvey described Cooper's offending as "systematic targeting" of a Northland business.

The main offence for which Cooper was locked up was a ram raid at Stirling Sports in Waipapa, in the Bay of Islands, in October last year.

Eric Hazelden, who owns the store with his wife, Robyn, told the court the damage inflicted by Cooper and his associates "had to be seen to be believed". The vehicle demolished a 5-metre reinforced window and travelled through a storeroom before coming to rest inside the shop, smashing down an internal wall, wrecking stock and destroying fittings.

The ramraiders took $2000 worth of goods but caused $25,000 in damage. It was one of 14 raids on the store since 2010, with Cooper responsible for at least three of them, Mr Hazelden said.

The cost of all the raids totalled hundreds of thousands of dollars and made it difficult for the couple to get insurance. At one stage, until the company was persuaded the Hazeldens really had done everything possible to prevent burglaries, their excess went up to $25,000.

The ongoing raids also took a huge emotional toll, with the Hazeldens often waking in the middle of the night imagining their phone was ringing with news of another burglary.

In July they moved their store to new premises in the middle of a row of shops at Waipapa, partly because it was less vulnerable than their old corner location. Mr Hazelden told the court the cost of the new fit-out could not be laid at Cooper's feet, but the need to move their shop could.

After sentencing the businessman said he was grateful to the police for outstanding investigation work and to the Mid North community for its support.

"The support we've received from the local community has been amazing. If it wasn't for them, helping us through all the difficulties we've faced, we mightn't still be here."

Mrs Hazelden said she was sorry a young person with a life ahead of him was being locked up, though he had every chance to sort himself out and failed to do so.

Stirling Sports owners Eric and Robyn Hazelden say they are relieved a teenager found guilty of repeatedly raiding their Waipapa store has been jailed.
Stirling Sports owners Eric and Robyn Hazelden say they are relieved a teenager found guilty of repeatedly raiding their Waipapa store has been jailed.

Friday's sentencing was a relief and brought a sense of closure, she said.

Mr Hazelden hoped they would now be able to sleep better at night.

"At least the community will be safer for a while," he said.

Cooper was sentenced on two charges of burglary and one each of resisting police, breaching post-detention conditions and breach of community work.

He also received a sentence review for previous convictions of burglary, reckless driving and wilful damage, with home detention converted to jail time.

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