Concert promoter turns to Facebook to help catch parcel thieves
A Wellington man had to turn to social media, claiming police did little to investigate thieves caught red-handed on CCTV.
However, police said while they could done more to keep the man in the loop, their investigation had been effective, ending in arrest.
Concert promoter Phil Sprey's cameras captured two men stealing a courier package, its contents worth about $40, from outside his Eastbourne home in November.
After two months of what he called "inactivity" on the behalf of police, Sprey posted the footage on Facebook, asking for help in tracking down the thieves. In exchange for useful information, Sprey offered a $200 donation to a charity of the informant's choice.
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The post, put up on January 23 and claiming "police are useless" attracted thousands of shares, hundreds of comments, and information for Sprey to pass on to police to help them investigate.
Sprey said the initial reaction from police, considering he had the alleged culprits on CCTV, wasn't good enough.
"They give you a phone number and expect you to go away and claim insurance, and do nothing about it," Sprey said.
"What's more important, clearing this type of crime up or worrying about indicating on a roundabout?"
He said police didn't originally take his video footage, and in the end he sent it to them on a flash drive.
On Friday, police said after reviewing his file they could have kept Sprey better informed.
However, Inspector Sean Hansen, Hutt Valley Area Commander, said the CCTV footage given to police by Sprey in December helped police positively identify an alleged offender on January 22, the day before Sprey vented his frustrations on Facebook.
That person has since been arrested and charged.
Hansen said the some cases always need to be prioritised over others.
"This does not mean that lower value thefts are ignored, which is evidenced by the fact that we have brought charges against the alleged offenders."
Police monitored theft patterns and cycles across the district, and known high risk locations and offenders.
But Sprey said more vulnerable people could feel nervous or violated by such a crime, and didn't deserve to be "fobbed off" by police.
"The fact nobody even bothered to take a full statement or come around and see us ... we had to actually come out and stamp our feet before they [police] actually started to do anything.
Hansen said he remained confident the way police handled theft complaints was effective.
He discouraged the public from taking matters into their own hands and posting accusations on social media, as it could compromise a successful prosecution.
On March 5, Sprey posted again on his Facebook page to say police had arrested an alleged offender, and he had donated $200 to Mary Potter Hospice.