Security surveillance around Napier parks is being stepped-up after a spate of thefts and vandalism which is costing the city council, residents and volunteer user groups thousands of dollars.
The crimes have escalated over recent days, with the stealing of a welding tutor's equipment from a shipping container at Maraenui Park and continued targeting of
Anderson Park, Greenmeadows.
This week, a playground nest swing costing about $3500 to replace was stolen and two lawnmowers were taken from a compound run by ride-on amusements train volunteers the Hawke's Bay Model Engineering Society.
There has also been other vandalism and graffiti at Anderson Park, including damage to the award-winning playground and seating being ripped out and thrown into a pond.
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Last month two gates were removed from the railway's bridge over the pond.
Society member Lance Titter says there have since been at least two attempts to remove the track gates that volunteers made to replace the stolen set, and similar damage to a gate and fittings at the entrance to a compound at the park.
Most of the thefts have involved the use of bolt-cutters or other tools to remove heavy-duty padlocks.
Titter said the thefts and vandalism are "appalling".
While disgusted at the targeting of children's facilities, he also felt for the mainly volunteer people who helped provide facilities and run them, without any personal remuneration and at little or no cost to the public.
The offending has sparked a significant response on social media, including condemnation from leaders of sometimes rival gangs expressing their own concern and urging the return of stolen property and the outing of the offenders.
The council and police say any information relating to offenders, suspicious behaviour or vehicles seen around the parks at night should be offered to police as soon as possible when such things are noticed.