Police nab one teen after rampage in Kaikohe

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A 13-year-old has been apprehended by police after a group of youths - some thought to be as young as 11 - went on a rampage; helping themselves to boxes of beer from a liquor store and trying to smash their way into a service station.

Businessman Tony Taylor, who runs the town's community patrol and the crime-busting Kaikohe Community Watch Facebook page, said he had had a "gutsful".

More police were needed urgently in the mid-North and they needed more powers to deal with youth, who, under current laws, were free to carry on terrorising the town.

The weekend's trouble started on Friday when about half a dozen youths walked into The Shed liquor store on Marino Court and walked out with about 10 boxes of beer.

Police tracked them to a party on Shaw St but with just two officers, and the adults at the party defending the youths, there was little they could do, Taylor said.

At about 1am on Saturday, a group of about 20 youngsters tried to break into the Mobil service station.

Taylor said the group was like "a pack of deranged animals" trying to kick in the doors and throwing rocks at the glass.

They did not get in but caused about $1000 of damage to the iwi-owned service station.

Taylor said there weren't enough police in the district to handle such situations.

Acting Far North police commander Inspector Al Symonds said there were 11 staff on duty across the Mid North until midnight on Friday and seven after midnight.

At the time of the attempted break-in at Mobil, police were attending incidents in Waipapa, Kerikeri and Kawakawa, as well as a crash at Oromahoe.

A sergeant and one other officer were in Kaikohe and police reached the service station three minutes after the first 111 call, Symonds said.

One youth, aged 13, had been apprehended and police were confident of finding most, if not all, of the others.

They would then be held to account, Symonds said.

Another two had been apprehended after the liquor store theft but before the Mobil incident.

On Friday night most staff were deployed to Paihia and Kerikeri because that was where problems were expected.

Police were following up with the victims in Kaikohe today to offer crime prevention advice and any support they needed.

Taylor said more police were clearly needed and underage offenders had to face repercussions for their actions.

Under the youth justice system, offenders aged under 17 often knew they could commit crimes without consequences, Taylor said.

Northland MP and NZ First leader Winston Peters said the first step to cutting crime in Kaikohe was to boost police strength.

He claimed "the thin blue line" had been broken by the current Government.

Police resources had been frozen in 2009, Peters said, leading to a dramatic drop in staff numbers. Only now, in election year, was the Government looking at boosting numbers.

He believed much of the youth crime in places such as Kaikohe were "stealing to order", where adults got youth to steal because they were untouchable.

The Government had made a mistake by raising the youth justice age last year and responsibility had to be sheeted home at a younger age, Peters said.

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