Teens sleeping rough
Groups of teenage boys are sleeping rough in bushes and carparks in Porirua’s CBD, drinking, tagging and burgling shops under the canopies.
The problem is not new, but is linked to a recent spate of burglaries under the canopies, where 20 shops were broken into in a week.
The culprits tended to be young men and boys in groups of between two and five, Porirua Community Guardians manager Terry Ryan said.
Popular dossing spots include on roofs of canopies businesses, in nearby carparks and bushes, under bridges and overpasses and next to Porirua Stream.
Mr Ryan said that in the morning he often found empty alcohol cans and bottles, bedding, clothes and sometimes stolen goods in those places.
The boys were not homeless, but chose to sleep rough on occasion, Mr Ryan said.
‘‘ They have homes, but they’re forsaking a bed for this.’’
A council bylaw bans sleeping or camping in public places not set aside for that purpose.
To discourage the behaviour Mr Ryan will douse cardboard box sleeping mats with water, and inform police.
‘‘Our role is not law and order, but to help people,’’ Mr Ryan said.
Porirua police intelligence officer Carl Kennedy said the problem was not increasing, and fluctuated in severity.
The police usually heard about incidents from groups like the Guardians and then responded, Mr Kennedy said.
He could not elaborate on how officers tackled the problem, apart from saying their approach was preventative.
‘‘If there’s a potential risk of offending as a result, we want to reduce that opportunity.’’
Mayor Nick Leggett said he had not been aware of the problem, but was keen to speak to other agencies about it.
‘‘We just need to get heads around the table,’’ he said.
‘‘Naturally we’re concerned about people sleeping in public places.
‘‘That’s something the council needs to be aware of. We need to work with other agencies to make sure these kids are safe.’’
Bush bed: A typical spot near Porirua’s CBD where teenage boys sleep rough, drink and cause trouble.