Bur­glars tar­get Cromwell busi­nesses

Central Otago Mirror - - FRONT PAGE - JO MCKEN­ZIE-MCLEAN

Firearms, chain­saws and cash are among items stolen dur­ing a spate of break-ins at com­mer­cial prop­er­ties around Cromwell.

Sergeant Bruce Terry, of the Cromwell po­lice, said po­lice were in­ves­ti­gat­ing a se­ries of break-ins around com­mer­cial prop­er­ties which in­cluded break-ins at cafes and or­chards.

The crime spree started on July 28 with three in­ci­dents, two break-ins overnight on McNulty Road where cash was taken, and a car break-in nearby on McKel­lar Court.

On Au­gust 22, a side door was forced open at an or­chard on the Cromwell-Lug­gate High­way, but an alarm scared off the in­truder. The same night, a cafe on McNulty Road was again en­tered and cash was stolen.

Again, that same night an in­truder gained ac­cess through a win­dow of a busi­ness in Ban­nock­burn, he said.

On Thurs­day, Au­gust 25 or Fri­day, Au­gust 26, a work­shed at an or­chard on the CromwellGibb­ston High­way was bro­ken into and tools, firearms and chain­saws were taken.

‘‘Some­one is tar­get­ing busi- nesses out of hours in the Cromwell area. Typ­i­cally, we don’t get many bur­glar­ies at all. Cromwell has been a safe town and crime is not high. So this num­ber of bur­glar­ies over a short pe­riod of time is out of the or­di­nary and we are in­ves­ti­gat­ing it.

‘‘We are keep­ing an open mind as to the group or in­di­vid­u­als that are com­mit­ting these and there are some pos­i­tive lines of in­quiry we are fol­low­ing. We need the com­mu­nity to look around and ask and come back to the Cromwell po­lice with any in­for­ma­tion.’’

Com­mu­nity pa­trols had been stepped up in the at risk ar­eas and were sup­port­ing po­lice, he said.

Of­fi­cial crime sta­tis­tics for July 2016 re­leased last Wed­nes­day by Sta­tis­tics New Zealand, show po­lice recorded 11,171 more vic­tim­i­sa­tions than the same pe­riod last year, which equates to a 2.3 per cent in­crease.

More than three quar­ters of this in­crease can be at­trib­uted to bur­glar­ies. The na­tional bur­glary rate in the 12-month pe­riod in­creased by 11.9 per cent com­pared to the same pe­riod last year.

Po­lice Min­is­ter Ju­dith Collins said po­lice were tak­ing the in­crease in the bur­glary rate ‘‘very se­ri­ously’’ and had re­cently an­nounced they were rais­ing dwelling bur­glary from a vol­ume crime to a pri­or­ity of­fence, and the Com­mis­sioner of Po­lice had made clear his ex­pec­ta­tion po­lice would now at­tend all dwelling bur­glar­ies.

Terry said the an­nounce­ment had lit­tle im­pact on Cen­tral Otago po­lice as they al­ready at­tended ev­ery bur­glary.

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