A Napier resident was horrified when he found the Napier police station closed not once, but twice as he tried seeking help after his bag was snatched.
Grant Hammond and his wife, Narise Gunderson, were sitting outside the Provincial Hotel watching festivities in Clive Square Garden last Friday when his bag was taken.
Despite giving chase Mr Hammond said the thief escaped in a car parked around the corner in Tennyson St.
After filing a report to police on the phone, Mr Hammond said he and his wife walked to the Napier Police Station about 7.15pm to hand in a keyring he snagged while pursuing the thief; only to find it was closed.
"The simple fact that on a Friday night at 7pm [in the] middle of summer the bloody police station was not manned is absolute bollocks," he said.
Mr Hammond said he returned the next day at 9.30am to find the station was still closed and, using the intercom button on the front door, he was told by a police spokesperson from Hastings that the Napier station was still unmanned.
Mr Hammond was told to write a letter, so he did just that.
In a letter to Hawke's Bay Today Mr Hammond called for Napier's brand-new $5.5 million station to be staffed 24/7.
"Look, I support the police, they do a great job but they are hamstrung ... they need people on the ground and to keep that bloody station open, " he said.
Acting Hawke's Bay area commander Inspector Andy Sloan said police in Napier did provide a 24/7 service to the public and were always available to assist the public when needed.
"Napier police have a range of ways in which the public can interact with them including in person and over the phone. Our focus is to ensure we are always providing a visible presence out in our communities," he said.
Inspector Sloan said the Napier station's opening hours were from 8am to 6pm Monday to Friday and 8am to 4pm on Saturday, Sunday and public holidays, but the front doors could be closed due to operational requirements.
Mr Hammond said the Government should spend its $1 billion Budget surplus on restoring the services and resources it had been "ripping out of communities".
His call for more police resources comes at the same time that crime statistics continue to highlight increasing crime in Hawke's Bay.
New Zealand Police statistics provided by Napier MP and Labour police spokesman Stuart Nash show that while nationwide recorded crime increased by 4 per cent in 2016, Hawke's Bay's recorded crime rose by 22 per cent, the highest increase of any region.
"We had the second-highest increase in burglaries (32 per cent up to 3899) and the highest increase in thefts (up 19 per cent to 6644). Assaults also increased by 22 per cent, up to 2642. In the Bay, there are now 75 reported burglaries per week, 128 reported thefts per week and 83 assaults per week," Mr Nash said.
The MP attributed the increased crime rates to Hawke's Bay's "P epidemic".
"Without a greater presence of community police undertaking crime prevention work and organised crime squad members going hard to crack down on the gangs, who are responsible for much of the meth trade in the Bay, we are going to continue to be over-represented in the bad statistics."
Mr Nash said although about $300 million had recently been added to the policing budget the majority of it went to meet the wage increases negotiated by police the previous year.
"It wasn't for more officers or more resources, it was simply to pay police what they're worth," he said.
Inspector Sloan said police were aware of the stolen handbag incident and the case had been assigned to an officer for follow-up action.
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