Matamata Chronicle

Business slammed by burglars

Thieves smash way into rural cafe for a few drinks

- CHLOE BLOMMERDE

A trio of thieves smashed through doors of a Waikato cafe and made off with drinks in what was the third burglary at the business in a month.

Sweet Painted Lady manager Pat Jacques, 79, is now feeling like she’ll have to sleep at the cafe – in Waharoa, near Matamata – to keep the building safe.

‘‘It makes you cry. We’re losing heart,’’ Jacques told Stuff.

The family-owned business had both its doors smashed in by three thieves on Sunday at 2.30am. They were recorded on CCTV making a dash to the till – despite cash being removed from the site – before stealing a few drinks from the fridge.

Jacques, who has been managing the family-run cafe for most of its 10-year history, said crime never used to be this bad.

But then again, she added: ‘‘society has deteriorat­ed since then.

‘‘It’s a small number of young people that are running loose and doing damage,’’ she said.

The family also owns the neighbouri­ng ice cream parlour, The Scoop. Despite the shops’ positive impact on the lowsocioec­onomic settlement along State Highway 27, they’ve been burgled 12 times in the last year.

In April 2021, thieves used rocks to smash their way into the cafe and ice cream parlour. The break-ins continued another six times over three weeks.

‘‘Other businesses in Waharoa get targeted too, it comes in waves. We just seem to be the flavour of the month.’’

Jacques said while it’s hard to know if the burglaries are by the same groups of people, she believes they hail from Waharoa and are aged between 12 and 13.

‘‘They’re stealing from their own,’’ she said.

‘‘We just hope the Waharoa community can rally around and work out who is doing this. Let them sort it out.’’

Some people travel to Waharoa just for the cafe, in some cases over 100 customers walk through the door each day. People have told Jacques the cafe is the best thing Waharoa has seen for many years.

‘‘The majority of people in Waharoa love us being here. They would miss us if we went.’’

‘‘Do they want shops in Waharoa?’’ she questioned, ‘‘because soon you won’t have any. It becomes too expensive.’’

It costs the cafe up to $400 to have the windows replaced.

‘‘You have no choice but to pay for it to get fixed. The money just comes out from what comes through the door that day.’’

While both businesses are insured with an excess of $1000, Jacques said they haven’t claimed ‘‘one dollar of insurance money since day dot’’.

And closing the businesses was not an option.

‘‘We’re trying to fight Covid19 and get through that. There’s enough on our plate trying to get customers through the door.’’

The CCTV footage has been given to police who are trying to sort the situation in the area, she said.

‘‘Everyone is doing their best, except those that should be.’’

 ?? TOM LEE/STUFF ?? The Sweet Painted Lady is a popular spot in the rural Waikato town.
TOM LEE/STUFF The Sweet Painted Lady is a popular spot in the rural Waikato town.
 ?? ?? Thieves who broke into Waharoa’s Sweet Painted Lady cafe early on Sunday morning and found nothing in the till, so they grabbed drinks from the fridge.
Thieves who broke into Waharoa’s Sweet Painted Lady cafe early on Sunday morning and found nothing in the till, so they grabbed drinks from the fridge.
 ?? TOM LEE/STUFF ?? The Sweet Painted Lady cafe manager Pat Jacques is devastated by the spate of robberies at her familyowne­d cafe (file photo).
TOM LEE/STUFF The Sweet Painted Lady cafe manager Pat Jacques is devastated by the spate of robberies at her familyowne­d cafe (file photo).

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