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

Community battles burglars

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A community near Rotorua is fed up with the recent spike in burglaries.
A community near Rotorua is fed up with the recent spike in burglaries.

A farming community near Rotorua, reeling from being hit by burglars, has called an urgent public meeting to find its own solutions.

Members of the Reporoa and Mihi communities will get together at Mihi School tonight to discuss a recent spike in burglaries.

Resident Gavin Voss said he called the meeting to work out how residents could "galvanise". It follows the most recent burglary at the weekend where a family lost almost the entire contents of their property - from their boat to the food in their cupboards.

Mr Voss said there was a perception little was being done by police.

"Unless you (the police) catch them with the items in their hands there's not much they can do about it," Mr Voss said.

We are not going to start swearing and waving pitch forks ... (but) this is grassroots level. It's in our face, let's deal with it ourselves.
Gavin Voss

Mr Voss said having Neighbourhood Support wasn't enough.

"We're not sitting around with cups of tea saying we have got our stickers on our windows, we will be fine."

Mr Voss said many residents in the area were already stressed from low dairy payouts and the burglaries were a "knife in the wound".

The meeting comes after the Rotorua Daily Post last week revealed detailed burglary statistics for the 18 months to the December. The figures showed Golden Springs (which includes Reporoa) had 45 burglaries.

Mr Voss said when the population of Golden Springs was compared to the worst suburb in Rotorua city - Mangakakahi with 212 burglaries - the rural area was over represented.

Reporoa Community Constable Jude Clifton said although she did not have specific data, there appeared to have been a spate since January.

"With the stress already (with payouts) it's the last thing the community needs."

Rotorua police crime prevention manager Inspector Stu Nightingale said there was at least one theft or burglary in Reporoa a week. He said residents should always call police if they saw something out of place.

Mr Nightingale said even if police did not have concrete evidence on a suspected burglar, they could still let them know they were on the police's radar.

"If a person is a known crook, we can do a cold call. Knock on the door, check out their vehicle, see what they are driving, do they have a licence, where are you working?"

He said he understood the community's frustration about the police's presence but police had to prioritise.

"When you've got front line constants like domestics and assaults happening in town, I can only deploy staff to certain locations. We need to prioritise."

The woman whose home was burgled on Saturday night, who didn't want to be named, said the loss was several thousands of dollars.

However, she said she had been blown away by how the Reporoa community had responded and had been inundated with food and items.

"I have just been so overwhelmed with so many people. It's just crazy.

"This community has stuck together through thick and thin. They are just so giving ... It's not just us who have lost heaps but it's a good little township to be involved in."

The facts:

* Golden Springs (including Reporoa) had 45 burglaries in the 18 months to December last year

* At least one theft or burglary in Reporoa each week

* A public meeting will be held tonight at 7pm at Mihi School

- Rotorua Daily Post

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