A bad start to summer
Police are urging Far Northerners to keep an eye out for tourists this summer after a series of robberies and assaults, two of them involving visitors to the Bay of Islands, on Saturday night.
The incidents included a robbery and attempted extortion of three Auckland men staying at a Paihia lodge, an assault on a group of female backpackers in Kerikeri, and the knifepoint robbery of a Paihia man who invited the wrong women home for dinner.
Sergeant Phil Le Comte said the three Auckland men were approached by three men demanding money. Two of the victims were taken back to their room, understood to be at Peppertree Lodge on Kings Rd, where an attempt was made to extort their belongings.
The third victim was robbed of his wallet, watch and car keys. Two other guests at the lodge were assaulted, one of them seriously, when they intervened and called police.
The offenders fled but police were following a number of positive lines of enquiry.
Earlier the same night a Paihia man socialising with two local women, aged 20 and 25, offered to cook the pair dinner at his home. When they arrived at the victim’s address one of the women pulled out a knife, and relieved him of his wallet and car keys.
The victim ran to the nearby police station, while the offenders left in his vehicle. The car was intercepted by police a short time later near Kawakawa. The two women were arrested and charged with aggravated robbery.
Also on Saturday night, a group of tourists, mainly young women from France and Germany, were walking from Hone Heke Lodge towards Kerikeri’s town centre when they were attacked by three young women. Several were assaulted before three local men intervened. The offenders, believed to be aged 15-20, fled on foot.
A police investigation to identify the three perpetrators was continuing, Sergeant Le Comte said.
Car keys taken from one of the tourists had been recovered.
“It’s disappointing that so early on in the summer we’ve seen a number of instances where tourists appear to have been targeted,” he said.
“Police are working hard to ensure our towns remain safe for both locals and tourists . . . and we urge locals to make sensible decisions and keep an extra eye out for those visiting the area.”
In September a group of Paihia residents, the Foreshore For Sure Letter Writers, called for security patrols and expanded CCTV surveillance, especially in the Kings Rd area.
Spokesman Don Mandeno said for some Northlanders, violently assaulting innocent people, often tourists, had become a sport.
The frequency of attacks put the Bay of Islands’ prosperity and tourist industry at risk, he said.
Paihia’s Kings Rd, a hot spot for tourists and those who prey on them.