Gang visit closely watched

SALLY KIDSON
Last updated 05:00 05/12/2012

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A large group of Rebels Motorcycle Club members and their associates in Nelson were watched closely but caused no problems, police say.

Gang members who were in Nelson for the weekend were staying at Saxton Lodge Motel and the Leisure Lodge Motel in Waimea Rd.

The gang is Australian but has a presence in Auckland and other cities in New Zealand. It is the biggest outlaw motorcycle club in Australia.

Their insignia is a Confederate flag with a cap-wearing skull and 1% patch in the centre. The Australian government and law enforcement consider the Rebels to be a criminal organisation but the club claims to be a group of motorcycle enthusiasts rather than gangsters. Members must own a Harley Davidson and the club claims to be "the biggest all big twin Harley-Davidson club in the world".

A police spokeswoman said the situation "had the potential to get ugly".

Senior Sergeant Grant Andrews, of Nelson, said he was pleased with the way the weekend went.

He said most bikers arrived in Nelson on Saturday morning and left on Sunday.

While in Nelson the group went for a ride around the bays to Kaiteriteri and came back and went to the Post Boy Hotel in Nelson.

Mr Andrews said police set up some checkpoints in the vicinity of the Post Boy.

He said the group of bikers appeared to have come from different cities around New Zealand.

He did not know why they had come to Nelson, but said they did not cause police or the public any grief. There was also no friction with any other motorcycle group in Nelson. "They have had some sort of run or meeting, but didn't cause us any issues and I'm not aware of any complaints about their riding or their behaviour from members of the public."

Police issued seven infringement notices and two roadside suspensions to members of the group. One person also had a vehicle seized in lieu of outstanding reparations.

Mr Andrews said during a ride to Kaiteriteri the gang members rode responsibly and in Nelson they respected the no gang patches policy in the city's bars.

"The majority were breath tested early on and as a result of our presence made good decisions about their transport options when out socialising.

"The licensed premises acted responsibly and we had great community support across the district."

Mr Andrews said police made no apology for their approach to policing the gang. "We know these groups exist to facilitate organised crime and we're sending a very clear message that we have zero tolerance in our area. That's what the public of Nelson expect.

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"I'm pleased the gang members got the message and played by the rules during their stay."

- The Nelson Mail

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