Ice-skating rink target for theft

VICKI WATERHOUSE
Last updated 15:21 05/07/2012
Ice skating
WARWICK SMITH/Fairfax NZ
POPULAR ATTRACTION: The ice rink in The Square has been a magnet for people having fun and others spoiling it.

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Thefts from Palmerston North's temporary ice-skating rink have prompted its operator to hold on to people's valuables while they skate.

Troublemakers have marred the excitement around the half-covered outdoor facility in The Square which opened on June 23.

Police had been called to the rink after hours because of people trespassing on the ice and interfering with equipment.

The company that helped bring the rink to Palmerston North said ice skates were being stolen from the first day it opened.

Luke Johnson, 15, told the Manawatu Standard he went to the ice-skating rink on Monday night and asked staff if they could hold on to his gear.

Staff told him they had nowhere to put it, so he took his money out of his wallet but left the wallet in his jacket on a seat.

It was stolen some time between 7pm and 9pm.

His mother, Lorna Johnson, was frustrated by the lack of a bag-checking area.

"If they had done that, then it wouldn't have been stolen," she said.

Douglas Webber Events director Craig Douglas said staff were now looking after valuables for people while they were on the ice.

No thefts had been reported to him, but Mr Douglas there were occasions where people had lost items.

One woman lost a wallet and iPod but they were discovered the next day when she returned, he said.

"She couldn't find it because someone else had put their gear on top of it," he said.

Staff supervising items made it safer, he said.

Acting Palmerston North Inspector Brett Calkin said people needed to be cautious around the rink.

"Whenever you're in a public place you need to be careful of your property and make sure it's well secured and well looked after," he said.

"It's not about the skate rink to be honest, it's about any sort of public place where people are gathering and particularly doing sports, having to leave bags and other things unattended."

Mr Douglas said the response to the ice-skating rink continued to be fantastic.

A snow machine had been added and there were now about 10,000 fairy lights at the site.

"The kids love it, they go mad," he said.

People were queuing before the opening time of 9am, he said.

"It's just full, every second of the day," Mr Douglas said.

As of closing time on Monday, 9750 people had used the rink.

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- Manawatu Standard

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