Security cameras aimed at capturing Bay thieves on film are being ripped from their brackets and stolen.
A string of surveillance camera thefts have been reported to Tauranga police after thieves managed to make off with five cameras last weekend - bringing the tally to seven cameras stolen in the past month.
Worst hit has been Mount Maunganui College which has had three of the expensive cameras swiped only a month after the school spent $25,000 installing the security system.
In the latest raids, two cameras have gone missing from BP service station on Ngatai Rd and one camera each from Briscoes in Chapel St, Central Parade Superette in Mount Maunganui and the college.
Police were unsure who was targeting the cameras or for what purpose.
Similar thefts in Auckland have resulted in the cameras being used by drug dealers to monitor people visiting their tinnie houses.
Sergeant Robert Glencross, of Tauranga police, said the cameras were taken between 7pm and 2am on either Saturday or Sunday night.
Films recorded from the cameras have been scanned by police but the thieves have evaded having their mugs captured.
One tape had shown dark figures but it was not clear enough to determine the sex of the offenders, Mr Glencross said.
He said it would have taken a few minutes to detach the cameras from their mounts .
Most of the cameras were located in high positions so thieves would have needed either a ladder of a vehicle to stand on.
"They are strange things to be taking but someone may have a ready market for them," Mr Glencross said.
The thefts from Mount Maunganui College have come as a blow and were not a cost the school could take.
Assistant principal Ady van der Beek said the security system was put in place last month to combat vandalism and graffiti attacks.
The college has spent $25,000 on the project - with half the cash coming from its own funds and the rest from other sources.
Two cameras attached to buildings were taken at the end of last month and one more was stolen after a library window was smashed and the camera wrenched from its bracket last weekend.
"We encourage the local community to use the school and our aim is to continue surveillance of the property. We are looking at options as to ways we use the surveillance," he said.
The theft was discovered on Monday morning when staff turned up for work. Meanwhile, Shayne Eaton had cameras installed at his BP station on Ngatai Rd six months ago.
Over the weekend two cameras that scan the station's forecourt were ripped down.
Briscoes group managing director Rod Duke said the camera had been installed on his building in July last year when the business moved from its Elizabeth St location.
It was the only camera that has been stolen from 60 of the chain stores across New Zealand.
It has since been replaced and security has been beefed up at all the properties targeted since the cameras went missing.
If you can help police call 0800 SPEAK UP or Tauranga station on 577 4300.
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