Gifts for prisoners' aid workers stolen

Thieves who broke into a vehicle at Panieri Park have stolen from the very people who would volunteer to help them if they were caught, convicted and imprisoned.

Manawatu Prisoners Aid and rehabilitation Society (Pars) committee member Ian Hopkirk and his wife, Jo, left their car at the Palmerston North park while they walked their dogs last Thursday evening. On the back seat were Christmas gifts meant for the prisoners' aid group's volunteers.

Mr Hopkirk had been to Whanganui to buy the gifts to match a line of giftware that was out of stock in Palmerston North.

"It's inconvenient, frustrating and ironic," Mrs Hopkirk said. "Whoever took them would not have known who they were for, but they were stealing from the people who are out there to help people who are doing something wrong.

"It's so ironic that the people who help those who commit crimes are punished."

A Tectra jacket, a vest and rain jacket on the back seat were also taken.

The vehicle was off the road temporarily. Thieves had jemmied the side window open, damaging a panel as well as breaking the glass. It was the second time the couple had their car broken into while out with the dogs in three months.

Manawatu Pars president Garry Buckman said the volunteers' gifts would probably be replaced from the group's modest donations account.

"The account is pretty low, and it is really competitive to get grants money."

The group also depends on donations to buy Christmas presents for prisoners. "We make sure every prisoner gets a little something for Christmas - nothing sophisticated - just a toothbrush or magazine or calendar, sweets or noodles.

"We have to find the money to pay for that from somewhere."

Manawatu Standard