A Kaikohe grandmother has reported her own mokopuna after recognising him in CCTV footage of group of rampaging youths trying to smash their way into a service station.
The grandmother, who can't be named for legal reasons, said she was as upset and fed up as the rest of the Kaikohe community.
"I have no problems in coming forward and naming any one of my mokos who is doing wrong. I get that people are getting really angry and upset about what these young boys are doing and have had enough. So have we," she wrote on a Facebook post dedicated to identifying the offenders in Friday night's crime spree.
"Don't think we as grandparents don't give a hoot. We've tried helping him and it was thrown back in our faces. What do you do when your grandson doesn't want help, doesn't appreciate what's given to him? Don't worry, I've wanted to kick his backside on many occasions but they pull that card, 'I'll ring the cops'. It's just all so frustrating."
It saddened her but she was not ashamed to name her moko. If he wanted to play big-boy games he should be punished as one, she said.
The trouble started on Friday when half a dozen youths entered The Shed liquor store on Marino Court and ran out with 10 boxes of beer. Police quickly tracked them down to a party on nearby Shaw St but with just two officers, and a large number of adults at the party defending the youths, there was little they could do.
Later that night, about 1am, a group of about 20 youths believed to be as young as 11 tried to break into the iwi-owned Mobil service station. CCTV footage shows them repeatedly kicking the doors and throwing rocks at the glass. Their faces were obscured by scarves and hoodies.
Businessman Tony Taylor, who runs the town's community patrol, said they were like "a pack of deranged animals". They did not get in but caused about $1000 of damage.
Most Mid North police were in Paihia and Kerikeri at the time dealing with St Patrick's Day revellers. The district urgently needed more frontline police and the youth justice system needed to take a harder line with underage offenders, Taylor said.
He also called for a law change allowing authorities to impose curfews forcing young people to stay home at night.
Under current law, offenders under 17 knew they could commit crimes without serious consequences. All they had to do was feign remorse at the family group conference and they were free to keep marauding the town.
Taylor said only a small minority of Kaikohe residents - 20 dysfunctional families by his estimate - were responsible for the trouble. Some families were fourth- or fifth-generation beneficiaries; others were transient, moving to Kaikohe to be closer to family members in nearby Ngawha Prison.
Acting Far North police commander Inspector Al Symonds said 11 staff were on duty across the Mid North until midnight Friday and seven after midnight.
At the time of the attempted Mobil break-in staff were working in Waipapa, Kerikeri, Kawakawa and Oromahoe, but a sergeant and one other officer were in Kaikohe. They reached the service station three minutes after the first 111 call.
One youth, aged 13, had been apprehended and police were confident of finding most, if not all, of the others. They would be held to account, Symonds said.
A further two had been nabbed after the liquor store theft.
Most staff had been deployed to Paihia and Kerikeri on Friday because that was where problems were expected.
Symonds would not comment on whether Northland had enough police but said he was heartened by recent government initiatives to boost police numbers.
Police were already working to recruit new staff from places such as Kaitaia, Kaikohe, Kerikeri and Kohukohu, he said.
"If you want to do something about crime, become a cop. We want people who understand the North and Northland-style policing."
Northland MP and NZ First leader Winston Peters said the first step to cutting crime in Kaikohe was to boost police strength.
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.
He said the Government had made a mistake by raising the youth justice age last year.