It's been 16 years since security guard Josh Rapata has ridden a bike but he's only to happy to patrol Whangarei's Hatea Loop on two wheels.

He rode his way round the track in near darkness yesterday about 6am in the first of what will become regular patrols on the Loop.

"There was hardly anyone out on the track and it's disappointing. I do the Loop myself and I want everyone to come back," Mr Rapata said.

"I was all for this ... I love doing community work."


The man behind the safety initiative is Jean-Pierre Dignon, general manager of Northern Districts Security. He has decided to use his staff to ride the Loop regularly in a bid to make people feel safe after the attack on a young female jogger last Friday.

The woman, in her early 20s, was dragged off the Loop at 6.30am and driven to a house where it is alleged she was sexually assaulted. She was dropped in central Whangarei where she was found by a member of the public at 7.30am. She remains in Whangarei Hospital.

A man in his 40s, accused of kidnapping, sexually violating and causing grievous bodily harm to a woman, is behind bars after being arrested.

Yesterday morning the security company posted on Facebook announcing the patrols and by midday it had been seen by 20,000 people and there were 100 comments and 1500 likes. The response was unexpected but was confirmation the company was doing the right thing.

Mr Dignon said the company was not being paid for the patrols but the staff had really backed the idea.

"I've noticed a drop in the number of people using the Loop since last week. It's such a great asset on our doorstep. I want to make it safe for everyone," he said.

There will be at least four patrols a day, some will be in the early mornings and also over the weekend but the public could be assured they would be from "dawn to dusk".

He encouraged people to approach the security guards and tell them about any suspicious behaviour they may notice. The guards would be handing out City Safe cards which had a number to ring to report incidents.

"If we build statistics around what is happening here, the council can give more resources to the area. We want to be proactive and prevent things from happening," Mr Rapata said.

"People come back, we will be here," he said. The patrols would run for a month or until the council installed lighting, which they said would be done by the end of July.

On Tuesday morning, Sally Forth posted an open letter to the women of Whangarei on Facebook stating: "It was scary down on the Loop this morning. Please come back again, as it's really scary without you."

She said there were mainly men walking and "a few brave women like me, who want to walk through their fears".

"The Loop is no more dangerous today than it was last week, though it felt like it because I was so alone. The sooner you all come back and fill up the space with me the better."

reporting Kristin Edge