Vandalism costs huge
Green fingers claim bronze
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.