Golf club thieves head south

JOELLE DALLY AND AL WILLIAMS
Last updated 15:55 28/01/2014

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"Amateurish" thieves who broke into golf clubs in North Canterbury to raid the green fee boxes appear to be heading south. 

Inspector Peter Cooper said seven golf clubs from Canterbury to North Otago had reported overnight break-ins since Sunday. 

Police believe the incidents at Tekapo, Waimate, Geraldine, St Andrew's, Otematata, Omarama and Kurow golf clubs may be related to six North Canterbury golf club break-ins earlier this month.

Inspector Peter Cooper said the offenders were "quite amateurish in their approach". In each case, the burglars forced entry and ripped off the top of the green fee honesty boxes. 

"Either there are separate groups, or there is a link to it. It could be they started off in North Canterbury and started drifting south."

"They are not particularly sophisticated.

"Much like they did in North Canterbury, the offenders either walked away empty-handed - or close to it. Cooper said the damage was worse for the clubs than the financial loss.

Many green fee boxes were cleared every night. Others may have only up to $100 in them.

He advised golf clubs to place signage showing there was no cash on the premises.

Waimate Golf Club grounds convenor Alan Sheppard said the clubhouse had sustained a lot of damage in the 5.50am break-in overnight Sunday/Monday. The clubhouse door was forced open and would cost about $200 to repair.

It was the second time the premises had been targeted in two months.

"We're going to have to replace four doors and locks."

Constable Marcus Dominey said the security alarm appeared to have frightened the offenders and they left without taking anything. In mid-December, an office window was broken and cash taken, costing the club $180.

St Andrew's president Tom Hurst said their break-in overnight Sunday/Monday was "very disappointing".

The Cairns Golf Course in Tekapo sustained damage to a door in a break-in the same night. The Omarama club was entered between 3pm on Sunday and 7am today, while Kurow reported its break-in as within a two-day time frame.

Otematata appeared to have been targeted overnight on Sunday, police said.

After the six North Canterbury golf club break-ins, Senior Sergeant Malcolm Johnston called the raids ''an exercise in stupidity''.

"If you want to identify a stupid criminal, then someone breaking into golf courses repeatedly and getting nothing for it would have to be, in my view, the definition of stupidity.

''The Canterbury golf clubs targeted this month were: Waimakariri Gorge (twice), Amberley, Culverden and Amuri. There was also an attempted break-in at the Pegasus Golf and Sports Club. 

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- The Press

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