Thieves hit char­i­ties

Central Leader - - Front Page - By Rhi­an­non Hor­rell and Carly Tawhiao

CAL­LOUS thieves have raided three cen­tral Auck­land char­i­ties this month, leav­ing of­fi­cials won­der­ing why they’re be­ing tar­geted.

Youth­line in Pon­sonby, Cure Kids in Eden Ter­race and Al­lergy New Zealand in Mt Eden were set back by thou­sands of dol­lars by the bur­glar­ies.

An es­ti­mated $8000 in com­puter equip­ment was taken from Youth­line’s of­fice last Thurs­day night, some of which had only been de­liv­ered the pre­vi­ous day.

“It just seems so wrong to steal in the first place, but to hit a char­ity that’s try­ing to make a dif­fer­ence in our com­mu­nity adds a whole new level,” says Stephen Bell, chief ex­ec­u­tive of the or­gan­i­sa­tion that pro­vides sup­port ser­vices to youth.

The bur­glars took two lap­tops, three new LCD screens, three older com­puter mon­i­tors, two desk­top com­put­ers and a num­ber of com­puter ac­ces­sories.

In Youth­line’s 40year his­tory this is the third time it has been bur­gled, Mr Bell says.

Al­lergy New Zealand’s of­fice was ran­sacked by thieves for the sec­ond time this year on Satur­day night, just as it was about to kick off its an­nual Al­lergy Aware­ness Week.

About $10,000 worth of equip­ment was taken in Fe­bru­ary and a few hun­dred dol­lars in cash was taken at the week­end.

“It is a hor­ri­ble feel­ing,” says Al­lergy NZ chief ex­ec­u­tive Penny Jor­gensen.

“When they come the sec­ond time it feels per­sonal.”

Staff spent Mon­day morn- ing pick­ing up shards of glass from the floor and from com­puter key­boards.

“Why pick an or­gan­i­sa­tion that didn’t have much to start with?” Mrs Jor­gensen says.

She says it is for­tu­nate that noth­ing of great value was kept on the premises fol­low­ing the first theft.

“We think they waited a cou­ple of months un­til they thought things had been re­placed.”

Cure Kids chief ex­ec­u­tive Kaye Parker re­ceived a phone call on May 9 say­ing the or­gan­i­sa­tion’s of­fice had been bur­gled.

Se­cu­rity ar­rived within four min­utes of the call­out but the thieves had al­ready made off with five lap­tops and petty cash.

Ms Parker says to steal from a char­ity is low.

“This is not the first time we have been tar­geted,” she says.

“It is a tremendous in­con­ve­nience to lose work de­vices and doc­u­ments that will take time and money to re­place.

“This af­fects our abil­ity to help sick chil­dren through fund­ing re­search into life-threat­en­ing ill­nesses.”

De­tec­tive se­nior sergeant Steven Breach says his staff at­tended the Youth­line break-in but they are not aware of any trends tar­get­ing char­i­ties.

Mr Breach says com­put­ers and lap­tops are high-pro­file items that are easy to re­sell.

Mrs Jor­gensen says the break-ins have a flow-on ef­fect and in­sur­ance pre­mi­ums rise.

“Maybe char­i­ties can’t af­ford pro­tec­tion.”

Al­lergy Aware­ness Week ends on Satur­day. You can visit www.al­lerg­ynz.org.nz to buy a raf­fle ticket and help them out.

Photo: JA­SON OX­EN­HAM

Frus­trated: Al­lergy New Zealand chief ex­ec­u­tive Penny Jor­gensen in­spects the dam­age.

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