Mission to match international visitors with stolen gear

By Kristin Edge -
3 comments
Area prevention manager for Whangarei and Kaipara Sergeant James Calvert, left, and Constable Denham Kelly sort through a mass of stolen gear found in a Whangarei. Photo/John Stone
Area prevention manager for Whangarei and Kaipara Sergeant James Calvert, left, and Constable Denham Kelly sort through a mass of stolen gear found in a Whangarei. Photo/John Stone

Hundreds of items believed to be stolen from vehicles belonging to international tourists parked at popular Northland sites have been discovered in a Whangarei home after a police raid.

Now police are tackling the mammoth task of contacting backpackers still touring New Zealand and matching them up with their stolen gear.

Piles of backpacks and sports bags filled with clothes, jewellery, a selection of electrical and expensive camera gear were all part of the property found in a Whangarei house when police carried out a search warrant last Wednesday.

Northland police area response manager Daniel Cleaver said it appeared most the gear belonged to European backpackers and were thefts that had happened recently.

"We are now in the process of identifying what property we have and hopefully most of them are still travelling in New Zealand," Mr Cleaver said.

During a two week period police had 12 reports of thefts from cars parked on Abbey Caves Rd, near Whangarei.

Vehicles parked at Tutukaka, Matapouri and Whale Bay have also been targeted.

"We are really disappointed visitors to our district are targeted in this way - we hope by returning some of this property will go some way in repairing Northland's reputation with these visitors."

Police were photographing the property and anticipated they would load them on to their Northland Police Facebook page to help find more of the owners.

Mr Cleaver reiterated the safety message to hide all gear when leaving a vehicle and take all important documents such as passports

Terori Irihe, 23, from Otangarei, appeared in Whangarei District Court last Thursday on charges of using a document for a pecuniary advantage, receiving, and using a paywave card for pecuniary advantage.

He was remanded in custody and it was likely he would face more charges when he reappeared in court this week.

Further arrests were likely police said.

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