Se­rial herb bur­glar roams

Auckland City Harbour News - - FRONT PAGE - HUGH COLLINS

An il­licit gar­den raider is on the loose in Mt Roskill.

On Septem­ber 27 Denny Ave res­i­dent Claire Ste­wart caught a man red-handed steal­ing from her Auck­land home’s back­yard herb patch af­ter see­ing an uniden­ti­fied fig­ure walk down the drive.

She in­ves­ti­gated and dis­cov­ered an el­derly man crouch­ing over her herb gar­den with scis­sors.

‘‘It was a bit surreal when I went out there and found out he wasn’t who I thought he was go­ing to be, like a courier or some­thing like that,’’ Claire says.

But rather than flee­ing in shock, the man sim­ply smiled and bowed.

‘‘I don’t know what he thought I would say but of course I swore a bit and said ‘you’re tres­pass­ing, what do you want’, and he con­tin­ued to bend down and thought that he could take some more.’’

When Claire pulled some herbs off him, he fought back by pulling them out of her hand.

The thief pro­ceeded to take off on a bike with a box of other herbs, fruit and veg­eta­bles.

The fol­low­ing day Claire spot­ted him again - this time head­ing down her neigh­bour’s drive.

She at­tempted to fol­low him in her car but says she couldn’t see him, as­sum­ing he prob­a­bly went out the back of the prop­erty and into the War Me­mo­rial Park.

Claire’s daugh­ter Jessie posted about the in­ci­dent on Neigh­bourly.co.nz and had a shock­ing re­sponse.

It turns out the thief is not an un­fa­mil­iar vis­i­tor to the area, with a num­ber of res­i­dents re­spond­ing say­ing they too have been stolen from by the man.

It has been al­leged by a user on the site the thief’s been known in the area for a few years and sells stolen goods at the Wesley Com­mu­nity Cen­tre mar­kets.

As a re­sult Claire vis­ited the mar­kets the fol­low­ing Fri­day.

‘‘There he was, in the same clothes he had worn when he walked down the back

Claire says.

She cap­tured a photo and in­tends to use it with a po­lice re­port.

Claire says if he knocked on the door she’d be happy to let him through if he in­tended to use the herbs for him­self.

‘‘He’s ob­vi­ously mak­ing a profit from some­thing other peo­ple are growing.’’ De­spite ap­pear­ing to speak min­i­mal English, the Ste­warts be­lieve the thief must know what he’s do­ing. here,’’

HUGH COLLINS / FAIR­FAX NZ

Jessie and Claire Ste­wart are not the thief’s first vic­tims.

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