Cameras set to catch vandals

Extra spy cameras will be installed and security patrols stepped up in Pukekura Park in a bid to stamp out vandalism.

New Plymouth's pride and joy has been relentlessly attacked by vandals over the past few weeks.

Christmas lighting on Poet's Bridge was the target of the latest attack in the early hours of Saturday morning.

Park curator Chris Connolly said the number of security cameras had been doubled from two to four.

The cameras worked just as well in the dark as they did in the daylight, he said.

"It should be easy to identify people who are in the park at night."

The council had carefully selected where the cameras were installed and would see how they went before deciding whether to install more.

It was hard to understand why some people felt the need to cause damage, Mr Connolly said.

"It's really disappointing because so many people get pleasure out of the park."

The bridge lights would have to be redone, when work should have moved on to other installations.

The front gate was locked to keep vehicles out, but it was not an option to lock up all the side gates, he said.

Mayor Andrew Judd said he was "very sad" about what had happened.

"It's a poor reflection on some of our community," he said. "I'm disappointed because we're far better than that."

He said if the pattern continued, a community discussion needed to first take place to see what appropriate steps could be taken to stop the issue.

Mr Judd encouraged people to report suspicious activities to the police.

District councillor and former top cop Grant Coward said putting cameras in the park was a good start.

"That's a deterrent."

Vandalism happened all over town, he said.

"It's disappointing."

And it is costly.

At the end of October vandals caused $55,000 worth of damage to the playground just as it was due to reopen after a $560,000 refurbishment.

Since then there have been two attacks on the band rotunda which had a recent makeover costing $60,000; an arson attack on the playground toilets; newly planted roses were destroyed; the stripping of red perspex eyes off a Don Driver sculpture; and five park buildings were broken into.

Acting Senior Sergeant Dave MacKenzie felt the cameras and guards would increase the chances of nabbing the troublemakers.

"But it all costs us as ratepayers.

"It's very sad that somebody gets their kicks from wrecking community projects."

The police will have a significant presence during the Festival of Lights, but they don't have the resources to patrol the park 24 hours a day.

Taranaki Daily News