Burglary ring smashed
Police believe they have busted a well-organised burglary ring after the arrest of two men following a series of dramatic car chases in Nelson.
After arresting the pair, aged 18 and 22, police searched two Nelson homes yesterday and recovered $25,000 to $30,000 worth of computer equipment, including laptops taken from Clifton Tce School, and a firearm stolen in a recent burglary.
Clothing, tools, weedeaters, a lawn mower, power tools, a welder and camera equipment were also recovered.
"We have disrupted a relatively well organised burglary ring," Nelson Bays area commander Inspector Steve Greally said.
"It's quite clear they would have continued offending had we not caught up with these people, ripping off a lot of Nelsonians of some very expensive gear."
The two will face burglary and driving-related charges. Greally said further arrests were likely.
Police investigating the burglaries had been seeking an old Honda car. Patrols had pursued the vehicle several times during Wednesday and early yesterday morning in central Nelson and Atawhai, but Greally said the pursuits were abandoned after officers deemed it was unsafe to continue.
"They demonstrated quite clearly they were not going to stop for anybody at all. They had absolutely no regard for anybody's safety."
The car was spotted again in the Atawhai area about 11am yesterday, and reached speeds of up to 115kmh in a 100kmh zone as police gave pursuit.
Road spikes were laid across State Highway 6, but the car drove through them and continued on despite damage to the front left tyre that eventually fell off.
The car carried on at lower speeds toward Nelson, eventually stopping in Russell St and the men ran off, chased by police and police dogs. Bystanders helped police by indicating the direction the two men went.
The pair were arrested on a residential property in Queen's Rd. The address was not linked to the men.
Russell St resident Doug Stenhouse was at home when he heard the noise of the Honda driving up the street.
He said over the last couple of days workers had been cutting down and mulching trees, so he initially thought the loud noise was the "mulcher having a spaz".
However it was the sound of the damaged vehicle.
Stenhouse said he did not see the men get out of the car, but soon after he heard the police sirens. He also saw a neighbour pointing to police that the men had run up into a nearby park.
"The dog handler was one of the first there. He pulled the dogs out and started chasing up the way. A couple of other cops came up through the bushes and soon after that I heard a whole lot of yelling and dogs going ape. That lasted a few minutes."
Stenhouse said it was scary and he "definitely locked the doors".
"I thought somebody is going to be coming through the back fence.
"There was quite a lot of yelling going on".
He estimated about 10 police cars attended the incident.
"My heart was going for it. This is the most serious thing that has happened here since the birth of my child."
Greally said police had noticed a spike in burglaries in the Nelson Bays area in recent weeks.
About $50,000 worth of electronic goods, or 25 laptops, were stolen from Clifton Tce School on Tuesday night.
Motueka High School was also burgled overnight on Wednesday.
"We have still got a lot of inquiries to do," Greally said.
He was delighted to be able to return some of the laptops to Clifton Tce School because they were valuable items.
The recovery of a stolen firearm from a vehicle at one of the properties searched was a "fantastic result", he said. The possession of illegal firearms was "an incredibly dangerous situation for police and the public".
Greally said he was proud of the way his officers had handled the situation and the fact it had been resolved without anyone getting hurt.
Police did the right thing to abandon the chases when they became unsafe.
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