Police catch up with 'rooftop mall burglar'

JOELLE DALLY AND BLAIR ENSOR
Last updated 05:00 14/07/2014

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A rooftop mall burglar used tin snips to cut his way through shop ceilings, before lowering himself inside and help himself to cash, say police.

He then used shop objects to climb back out through the roof without setting off mall alarms.

James William Cornes, 39, will appear in the Christchurch District Court later this month charged with seven counts of burglary and possession of burglary instruments, but police say more charges are likely.

Cornes is accused of breaking into the Richmond Mall, near Nelson, twice between April 8 and 9. In one of those incidents he allegedly cut his way into the Body Shop.

He is also accused of twice breaking into Merivale Mall Shopping Centre between May 30 and 31, the first time into Sergios men's clothing store and the second time into a hairdresser, V For Hair.

Between June 2 and 3, he allegedly struck at Northlands Shopping Centre.

"We suspect that he's done a good reconnaissance and knows the layout of the malls. In the early hours he's come back to burgle them," Detective Sergeant Darren Folau said. "He's cut through the roof [with tin snips] and through the ceiling panels. He's in and out."

Similar break-ins have been discovered at malls in the North Island, Queenstown, Barrington Shopping Centre and at The Hub Hornby.

Three shops at Barrington Shopping Centre were burgled: Health 2000, Little Miss and Little Mister and The Cats Pyjamas gift shop.

Cornes, who recently returned to New Zealand after spending most of his life in Australia, appeared in the Blenheim District Court last Friday where he entered no pleas and was remanded in custody.

He will appear in the Christchurch District Court on July 31.

Cephas Property Management portfolio manager Jason Marsden, who manages Barrington Shopping Centre and Richmond Mall, said security had been increased.

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- The Press

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