A bad start to sum­mer

The Northland Age - - Local News - By Peter de Graaf

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.

PIC­TURE / PETER DE GRAAF

Pai­hia’s Kings Rd, a hot spot for tourists and those who prey on them.

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