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City suffers as thieves wreak havoc

Last updated 12:42 06/08/2012

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Palmerston North is suffering one of the worst runs of burglary-related crimes in the country, and police say the public needs to take ownership of the problem to help authorities fix it.

Last year the Palmerston North area had the fourth-highest number of burglaries on a per-capita basis in New Zealand.

Acting Senior Sergeant Phil Ward said the issue was still rearing its head.

"Palmerston North currently has one of the highest rates per capita for burglary offences."

Last month, 19-year-old Rhys Bycroft, who has cerebral palsy, had thousands of dollars of specialist equipment stolen from his house, leaving him unable to communicate beyond blinking "yes" and "no".

A spate of thefts in the Batt St area have police searching for a stolen red Subaru Impreza, registration plate BKA737, in relation to one burglary in particular.

Early last Friday morning, two people broke into Warehouse Stationery and took 40 cellphones. They got away in a stolen silver Subaru with black spoked mag wheels.

And on July 28 police caught a man who had attempted to burgle four houses in the same night.

Ward said the thefts were mainly being organised by "entrenched criminal groups".

"Kids are stealing for alcohol, drugs, and cash."

Some leads in the Rhys Bycroft burglary had helped uncover one of these groups - which included two 14-year-olds and a 15-year-old - but leads for other cases were thin.

"There's no information coming in on the Crimestoppers line or general line in the station in relation to burglaries," Ward said. "[People] know something about those crimes, but don't want to talk because of the danger of being seen as a nark."

Those people should ring the Crimestoppers line, as it guaranteed anonymity, he said.

People making calls would help reduce the number of burglaries.

"Unless we have the information coming in, it's really difficult for us to hold those accountable that are responsible for the crime in the community.

"It's only with the help of the public that we can solve these crimes."

Ward said people had to question sellers. The public is providing the market by buying those goods at a discounted rate. Ask questions like where it came from and how they can sell it so cheap."

Mayor Jono Naylor said the news was disappointing. "Overall, crime statistics have been improving.

"The only way people get away with these things is if we as a community let them get away with this."

There were plenty of ways to let police know about crimes, and people should not be afraid to let them know, Naylor said.

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"It is really crucial, for the sake of our whole community."

If people have any information about any crimes, they can be guaranteed anonymity by calling Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111. They can also call Palmerston North police on 06 351 3600.

- Manawatu Standard

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