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Police make arrests in connection with fires

Last updated 08:26 31/01/2013

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Bay Chronicle

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Police say they have their man, after a number of recent arsons in the Kawakawa area.

An 18-year-old Kawakawa man was arrested on January 23 in connection with a fire at the Kawakawa Superette on January 13, as well as two burglaries at commercial properties in the Bay of Islands town.

The alleged offender has been remanded in custody until February 12.

Police have also spoken to a group of younger teenage boys from Kawakawa about the arsons, which include four deliberately lit fires.

The young boys range in age from 13 to 16 years old.

Three from this group are being referred to Police Youth Services for their part in the arsons and connected burglaries.

Acting Detective Sergeant Greg Johnson, who has headed the investigation team, calls the youths' alleged involvement "very sad".

"It is a very serious offence carrying a hefty penalty, but it is also such a danger to human life. Not only are they putting their own lives in jeopardy - they are risking the lives of their own whanau and community who turn out as volunteer firefighters," he says.

Mr Johnson says police now have a pretty clear picture of who was responsible for the fires.

"The most important thing for us has been stopping this behaviour before someone gets seriously hurt. We and the Fire Service will be taking a prevention approach with these kids and their families, making sure this doesn't happen again."

Another fire at Matauri Bay is also being treated as an arson.

Just before 4am on January 26, the Fire Service was called to a blaze at the office of Matauri Bay Development.

The office, a portable building on blocks, was extensively damaged by the fire.

Anyone with information can contact the Kerikeri police on 09 407 9211 or Crimestoppers, anonymously, on 0800 555 111.

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