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Pensioner flats plagued by crime

ANNA LOREN
Last updated 05:00 29/04/2014
Tere Kimiangatau
Anna Loren
FED UP: Tere Kimiangatau wants added security measures at Otara Court to stop thieves targeting his uncle
Mere Tupa
Anna Loren
VULNERABLE: Otara Court resident Mere Tupa says her neighbours are living in fear.

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Tere Kimiangatau's elderly uncle has been burgled so many times he's afraid to sleep in his own home.

Instead the terrified 76-year-old has been spending nights at his nephew's house so he isn't targeted again.

The pensioner is a resident of Otara Court, a council-owned, low-cost housing village for the elderly on East Tamaki Rd in South Auckland.

But over the past few months the complex has become a magnet for thieves, Kimiangatau says.

Some have been visiting fortnightly on the day that superannuation is paid out, he says.

"They know that some of the residents withdraw all their money that day. They're actually targeting our old people."

Kimiangatau's wife Natasha says long-lasting health conditions make some residents particularly vulnerable.

And her uncle-in-law has been pushed over when trying to prevent one thief from entering his home, she says.

"He's had a triple bypass and that sort of thing could kill him."

She wants to see CCTV cameras installed at the complex so the offenders can be caught in the act.

Maori Wardens do daily patrols but they can't be there all the time, she says.

"They need to put cameras in. Our old people have paid taxes all these years. They deserve to have some protection.

"Kimiangatau's uncle does not want to talk publicly about the issue for fear of retribution.

But other residents of Otara Court say thefts have become commonplace.

Mere Tupa says three of her neighbours have been burgled in broad daylight in the past few months.

"I've got a partner living with me so I'm all right but other people are scared," the 71-year-old says.

Fellow resident Catherine Richards says neighbourhood support meetings have been held but those can't solve the problem.

"We try to watch out for each other but we're all rejects ourselves - we're all sick.

"The council's community occupancy manager Kat Teirney says the security matters are being taken seriously.

Her department is working on a renewal programme for all 67 pensioner villages across the Auckland region, she says.

Any works will need to be prioritised across the villages but could include significant upgrades.

"Work that could be carried out at the Otara village includes electronic gates at all three vehicle access points including CCTV monitoring and installing CCTV monitoring at three pedestrian gates.

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"That's welcome news to Kimiangatau.

"I think the council can really push this forward," the Flat Bush resident says.

"I know it's not always possible but a little bit of push is always helpful."

He's offered to install his own CCTV camera but Tierney says that request has not come through the council's customer service channels.

Installing a camera and monitoring the footage would cost about $60,800, she says.

- Manukau Courier

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