Group ‘mad as hell’ after equipment stolen
Vital equipment has been stolen from a Pauatahanui volunteer nature group, despite the group taking more than adequate precautions against burglary.
A shed used by Forest and Bird volunteers at Pauatahanui Wildlife Reserve was burgled twice in June, costing the group about $10,000 in stolen goods and damage to property.
Volunteer and reserve com- mittee member Wanda Tate said essential maintenance was falling behind because it required the equipment. ‘‘We’re mad as hell.’’
On June 24 burglars stole a commercial tractor-mower worth up to $7000 and two commercial scrub cutters worth $ 800 each.
‘‘I’m dead sure they want to sell the equipment. By the time we discovered it on the Sunday, my guess is that tractor was up in Wairarapa,’’ Mrs Tate said.
The burglars cut through steel mesh doors with bolt cutters to gain entry to the shed.
The previous Sunday they made their first attempt at a break-in, but succeeded only in smashing padlocks on the shed’s outer doors, rendering them useless.
After the first break-in, Forest and Bird volunteers secured the tractor to a concrete block, but the chain was cut by burglars.
‘‘The police said there really wasn’t much else that (we) could have done,’’ Mrs Tate said.
The 4x2m shed would have to be rebuilt at a cost of several thousand dollars, she said. The group will claim insurance for the dam- age but faces a $1000 excess. It gets no grants or funding, so is looking to fundraise for the cash.
In the meantime, essential grass mowing and reed trimming cannot be done, as certain areas of the reserve can be accessed only by a specially narrow tractor, like the one that was stolen.
Work to raise certain tracks has had to cease too, and soil and gravel is lying in piles exposed to the elements.
‘‘So we have a large area of slithery, mushy clay,’’ Mrs Tate said. ‘‘At the moment it’s wheelbarrow brigades.’’