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Retail crime response ramps up

A 41-year-old woman has appeared in Masterton District Court on an aggravated assault charge arising from an incident at a supermarket in which a staff member tried to prevent a case of retail theft.

Police said in a statement that this was one of “a small number of shoplifting incidents in Wairarapa supermarkets” recently, noting that there “does not appear to be an increasing trend”.

Nonetheless, two groups formed to address a perceived increase in retail crime and other anti-social behaviour in Masterton’s CBD are beginning to firm up.

A meeting of concerned business operators – hosted by Masterton District Council [MDC] – was held on December 14, with the purpose of coming up with “proactive solutions for preventing retail crime,” Mayor Gary Caffell said at the time.

As a consequence, a group of about 10 retailers met mid-last month, with discussions covering the need to build on links with MDC and create a strong network of support for retailers and businesses, as well as ways to better promote Masterton’s CBD.

Although the meeting was initiated by councillor Stella Lennox, it is intended the group will ultimately be led by retailers, with ongoing meetings scheduled on the evening of every third Wednesday of the month [the next meeting will be at 7pm, on Wednesday April 19 at Waiata House]. It’s also intended that police will attend every meeting to discuss any issues relating to antisocial behaviour.

Meanwhile, a cross-agency leadership group instigated by Caffell that’s intended to “develop a multi-agency approach to dealing with broader issues faced by the district” has now held two meetings.

As previously reported, the first meeting was largely focused on administrative matters, and resulted in the formation of a project implementation group and a smaller governance group.

At its second meeting, the leadership group – which involves the MDC mayor and council staff, along with representatives from police, iwi, Oranga Tamariki, Ministry of Education and Ministry of Social Development [MSD] – agreed its focus would be on supporting high-risk youth in Wairarapa.

“The approach will involve providing customised support to families by bringing together a sub-group of individuals who work with youth in the community,” a council spokesperson said in a statement.

“This will include developing a holistic plan that addresses the unique needs of each family through initiatives such as MSD mentoring, alternative education, cultural programs, etc.”

The group acknowledged that different approaches may be needed for Pasifika and Maori.

Another meeting is planned for the end of this month, with invitations to attend being extended to “Carterton and South Wairarapa, along with youth-focused individuals such as Wairarapa truancy leads, Wairarapa school principals at the primary/intermediate level, and the heads of Wairarapa alternative education”.

In the interim, Business Wairarapa is facilitating a free security-focused event on Thursday April 13 that’s open to business people and community members alike.

Kicking off at 5.30pm at the 10 O’clock Cookie Bakery Cafe, Securatel NZ’s Tony Stephenson and Blue Eagle’s Jock Hart – both of whom work with communities, police and councils across Wairarapa – will talk attendees through a range of topics, including the effective use of CCTV to both deter criminals and theft, and help with workplace health and safety, fog cannons and smoke screen systems, and new AI-empowered monitoring technology for homes and businesses.

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