Police and distraught publicans are calling for public help in finding thieves who used a stolen vehicle to rip-out a Napier hotel's foyer doorway and take a money machine early today.
A green 2003 Ford Courier (registration number BJT604) stolen overnight from Taradale was used in the raid just before 5.30am at the Meeanee Hotel; and Function Centre, a hotel with more than 120 years of history at the junction of Meeanee Rd and Willowbank Ave, Meeanee, about 4km from Napier's southern urban-rural boundary.
The vehicle left heading towards Napier on Willowbank Ave, and police were later urgently seeking any information about the movement of the vehicle before, during and after the raid, the whereabouts of the ATM, and its contents, and any people who may have been involved.
It was at least the sixth time stolen vehicles had been used in ram raid style crimes in Napier in the near seven months since thieves crashed through the entrance of the Pettigrew Green Arena in Gloucester St, Taradale, and took another ATM about 2am on November 8 last year.
The van was abandoned in an orchard west of Taradale, and parts of the wrecked ATM were also found, including parts discarded in Willowbank Ave.
About 4am on January 2, another stolen vehicle was driven into the doors of EB Sports in Napier's CBD pedestrian precinct, in what was the second such raid on the premises, and about 3.50am on January 30 a stolen truck was rammed into the entrance of cleaning company Boulevard Services in Wakefield St, Onekawa industrial district.
Two premises in Napier were hit pre-dawn on March 18, both about 4am to 4.30am and one of which was also in the Emerson St pedestrian precinct, where a vehicle rammed the entrance of Stirling Sports, where thieves were thwarted by security gates.
The other was at the Westshore Corner Store, on the corner of Charles and Alfred streets, Westshore.
Hawke's Bay CIB officer-in-charge of investigation James Keene said about 5pm there had been no sign of the vehicle nor the stolen ATM and people could help by checking isolated off-road areas such as orchards and river banks for any sign of anything which could be linked to the raid.
A post on the hotel's Facebook page also asked for people to "look out" for the vehicle and said the raid was committed by "someone that has come through our pub and scoped out the place in the last week."
"Bit of a hassle and clean up but thankful we have our locals that got our backs to help us out," the post said. "Any info would be great, someone around here knows something."
Police can be contacted via 105, quoting the file number 220531/0490, and also via Crime Stoppers on 0800 555 111.