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Greytown patrol in the works

Greytown residents want to form a community patrol, citing an observed increase in crime in the area, even though police maintain there hasn’t been a noticeable uptick in offending.

There has been a recent string of unsettling events in the township, including a home invasion, a hit-and-run incident, reports of increased vandalism, and a commercial burglary.

At the end of August, Main St cafe The Offering was broken into overnight and its freezers raided, owner Bevan Morland told the Times-Age.

“They broke into our shed out the back with our freezers and smashed the door open.”

Morland said it is gutting that the thieves took about $1000 worth of goods, although it’s his team’s safety that he’s most concerned about.

“Now it’s Fort Knox out there. The main thing is making sure my team feels safe,” Morland said.

“Obviously you have people coming in at all times of the night, so we’ve said if you feel uncomfortable, just go home.”

The damage and value of good taken wasn’t enough to warrant an insurance claim, and Morland said the worst aspect of the experience was the inconvenience.

On the upside, The Offering team have received what Morland described as incredible heartfelt messages and supportive comments, as well as offers of help from the public.

Morland speculated the burglary could be a reflection of the
current cost of living.

“For me, there’s a reason food’s been targeted. It just seems weird they didn’t take other stuff,” Morland said.

“I just hope it was a random act. It’s hard times at the moment, and people are struggling to survive.”

Greytown Community Board chair Louise Brown said she has met with local police to discuss crime and get the ball rolling with creating a New Zealand Community Patrol in Greytown.

“As much as we love to say Greytown is Greytown and things won’t change, that’s what they said about New Zealand,” Brown said.

“Everything changes with growth, there are situations with more loss, and people are struggling more.”

Citing several resident reports of a prowler, a residential burglary and assault, a hit and run, and a commercial burglary, Brown said there’s potential for the community to feel a sense of unease.

“Is it exponential change? No,” Brown acknowledged.

“But are there things happening that don’t normally happen in Greytown? I would say yes.”

For example, Brown said she knew the toilets in Arbour Park had been vandalised and smashed twice this year.

Police confirmed this, and South Wairarapa District Council partnership and operations manager James O’Connor said there had been about $10,000 worth of damage in the past 12 months.

According to Brown, a community patrol run in conjunction with police is an important local initiative to get established, citing the Masterton community patrol as an example of how valuable such a group can be in assisting with the maintenance of law and order.

“You’re in constant contact with police, it’s not a vigilante thing,” Brown said.

Wairarapa area commander Inspector Scott Miller is adamant there had not been an increase in crime in Greytown, however.

“Greytown has the lowest level of crime in Wairarapa. It can go week to week without any reported crime.”

Miller said events like a reported burglary and assault, and the recent hit and run don’t indicate that crime is on the rise.

“One person was arrested for a burglary and assault over a month ago, and the person who committed the offence and the victim were known to each other,” Miller said.

“It wasn’t a random attack and wasn’t reported for quite some time.

“The hit and run could have happened anywhere in Wairarapa, it just happened to be just north of Greytown.”

The town has an average of zero to two reported crimes per week, figures Miller described as exceptionally low.

Nonetheless, he said he supports the establishment of a local patrol in Greytown.

“All communities should have a community patrol,” Miller said.

“But it’s certainly not being set up in Greytown as a response to an increase in crime, it’s just good for people to be involved with looking after the community.”

“We work with patrols, give sergeant phone numbers, they have contact with us, and we look after them.”

Miller said the Featherston, Masterton, and Martinborough community patrols have each been operating for almost 30 years.

Bella Cleary
Bella Cleary
Bella Cleary is a reporter at the Wairarapa Times-Age, originally hailing from Wellington. She is interested in social issues and writes about the local arts and culture scene.

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