Van­dal­ism costs huge

Green fin­gers claim bronze

South Waikato News - - FRONT PAGE - By CAITLIN WAL­LACE

Thought­less van­dals have put South Waikato ratepay­ers more than $200,000 out of pocket over the past 14 months.

In the lat­est in­ci­dent plants were ripped out across Toko­roa cen­tral business dis­trict gar­dens, in­clud­ing the coun­cil’s.

But Mon­day’s $300 re­pairs were just the tip of the van­dal­ism prob­lem, drain­ing ratepayer ac­counts.

In the past fi­nan­cial year the South Waikato Dis­trict Coun­cil es­ti­mated $208,000 was spent of van­dal­ism re­pairs.

Com­pared with a whop­ping $300,000 bill es­ti­mated in 2010, the costs have de­creased but the dis­trict is still fork­ing out.

What was spent on last year’s re­pairs was almost the equiv­a­lent of the fund­ing given for the dis­trict-wide trans­port ini­tia­tive.

Com­mu­ni­ca­tions man­ager Kerry Fabrie said there is no par­tic­u­lar area van­dals tar­get.

‘‘Van­dal­ism is fairly wide­spread in the South Waikato, and it’s our streets that are tar­geted the most, over parks and re­serves.’’

Though dam­age is seen by the coun­cil to be ‘‘ran­dom’’ and ‘‘wide­spread’’ the coun­cil re­ported To­tara and Bar­nett Re­serves had been tar­geted in the past.

Toko­roa Se­nior Sergeant Graeme Hill said while it is still an is­sue, it has been worse.

‘‘We’ve gone from a com­mu­nity that has al­lowed that kind of be­hav­iour to now if we see in­stances of tag­ging we would get rid of it,’’ he said.

Hill said some of the thanks came down to the po­lice and coun­cil col­lab­o­ra­tion of the ini­tia­tive 0800 NO TAGS.

‘‘When I got here 14 years ago you couldn’t walk down the street with­out see­ing tag­ging,’’ he said.

While Hill was im­pressed with the coun­cil’s ‘‘proac­tive’’ re­sponse it all came at a price.

‘‘The costs as­so­ci­ated with that [ van­dal­ism] are quite astro­nom­i­cal, if peo­ple knew they would be flab­ber­gasted.’’

Pu­taruru’s Glen­shea Park was one of the coun­cil’s lat­est cleanup jobs with a hefty bill as the re­sult.

Wa­ter heat­ing units were stolen last month cost­ing $5000.

Fabrie said the coun­cil tried to ‘‘dis­cour­age’’ the be­hav­iour and catch those who were re­spon­si­ble.

‘‘Coun­cil also does things such as in­stalling bol­lards to cut off ve­hi­cle ac­cess to re­serves to com­bat donuts.’’

How­ever she said the con­se­quences should lie heavy on peo­ple who chose to do it.

Pu­taruru se­nior sergeant Ja­son Shailer agreed with Hill and said the coun­cil did a ‘‘bloody good job.’’

In his cor­ner of Pu­taruru and Ti­rau he said there is a ‘‘low level’’ of tag­ging and Toko­roa seems to bear the worst of it.

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