Kelly Makiha is the Rotorua Daily Post's head of news

Wi-Fi attracts unwanted teens

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Free Wi-Fi after hours is attracting unruly teens.
Free Wi-Fi after hours is attracting unruly teens.

Police aiming to drive unruly teens out of Rotorua's central city are to hold talks with some local businesses about cutting off their free Wi-Fi after hours.

They say groups of teenagers getting up to mischief gather outside the shop frontages so they can use their phones to message their friends and go online free of charge.

Inspector Stuart Nightingale said police were to meet with some businesses in the coming weeks to suggest the idea of cutting off free Wi-Fi as an option to disperse the teens.

Police have been taking a tough line with teens in recent weeks as crime in the CBD has spiked. Mr Nightingale said police suspected the teens were responsible for breaking into cars, burglaries, taggings and fighting.

Mr Nightingale said letters were being sent home to parents and guardians of young people found by police unsupervised at night. The letters warned if their child was found again, they risked being charged themselves or losing custody of their children.

Mr Nightingale said shutting down free internet was another tool police could look at. He didn't want to disclose the businesses police would be talking to.

"It's a very much watch this space at this time ... We can't tell them how to run their businesses." Chamber of Commerce chief executive Darrin Walsh said he liked the police's suggestion.

"I think it is a great idea. Some of them do have free Wi-Fi and if they shut them down at night it should have an impact."

He said businesses also needed to look at security lighting.

"They are looking for dark places where they can get up to their mischief."

He said there were some "good common sense" actions businesses could take, including clearing away shrubbery and making sure there was a clear line of sight around the business.

"Where you create opportunity unfortunately some of our youth will take that."

Bully Free Bro co-ordinator Darcy Hunt, who works with youth through Te Waiariki Purea Trust, said young people liked to congregate in groups and not all were committing crime.

"Hanging out in groups is part of our culture in New Zealand. Our parents did it, their parents did it ... There's just a small amount of people who are spoiling it for the others in the group who are minding their own businesses and doing the norm."

He said for parents it was about setting boundaries and making sure children were kept occupied.

How to keep businesses safe:

* Turn off free Wi-Fi after hours

* Install security lighting

* Cut back shrubbery and anything blocking a clear view

- Rotorua Daily Post

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