Burglars target Cromwell businesses
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.