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‘Big spike’ in break-ins

By Hayley Gastmeier

[email protected]

Just days out from Christmas, yet another Masterton business has been burgled in what police say is just one hit in a recent spike.

Premier Workshop on Queen St was broken into sometime overnight on Tuesday, with cash and alcohol stolen.

This comes after Tripoli Bistro was smashed into on Sunday – the Kuripuni restaurant’s second break-in in a month.

Sergeant Ian Osland said that during the last two-to-three weeks there had been in excess of 50 burglaries in the region.

Premier Workshop owner Tony Witinitara said the thieves had wrenched the workshop door open, smashing the glass panel in the process.

“They’ve taken the computer system, basically all the Christmas alcohol, and money… they’ve just taken everything out of the office.”

Masterton's Premier Workshop was the target of thieves overnight on Tuesday PHOTO/HAYLEY GASTMEIER
Masterton’s Premier Workshop was the target of thieves overnight on Tuesday PHOTO/HAYLEY GASTMEIER

Dealing with the break-in was the last thing Mr Witinitara needed, saying someone close to him had recently died and he himself had been unwell in hospital.

Break-ins prompt warning

“Now I’ve got this on my plate as well.”

He said losing the computer system was a nuisance as it took care of all the invoicing.

“It’s just annoying we have to go through this whole process, especially at this time of year.”

Police are investigating the burglary.

Mr Osland, the area manager for youth and community services, said the recent “big spike” in burglaries was a mix of break-ins and property stolen from unsecured vehicles and buildings.

“We’ve had a lot of car crime with cars getting stolen over the last week, some of them have been recovered and some haven’t.”

These crimes have mainly occurred in Carterton and Masterton, he said.

“The main issue is some people are leaving their cars unlocked, and leaving their keys in them.

“It makes it really hard to prevent crime.”

On Tuesday night some shearing gear was stolen from a property after it was left outside the front door.

Mr Osland said there were instances where people had ignored their dogs’ alerting them to an intruder.

“They’ve heard their dog nutting off, but they haven’t paid much attention to it… during the night their dog has reacted to something, but they haven’t investigated it further.”

He said people could protect their property from being targeted by thieves by making sure their alarm systems were operational, checking sensor light bulbs were working and that the timer for the light was set to stay on for as long as possible.

Robust locks were a must, and security cameras were a good investment for those who could afford them.

“We want to hear about any suspicious activity, anytime, night or day,” Mr Osland said.

“We’d rather come and investigate and find an innocent explanation than miss an opportunity of potentially catching someone committing a crime.”

Sunday’s break-in at Tripoli Bistro was the third time the Masterton restaurant has been broken into in the span of about five months, with owner Marlon Tortoza now calling for a greater police presence.

Senior Sergeant Mike Sutton said police were mindful that businesses which closed late at night were vulnerable, and patrols were directed to areas where there had been repeat offending.

“We’re certainly aware of that and we keep an eye out for that. We patrol not only on the shop fronts but the back alleys too.”

He said police worked hard to be visible in the community, with patrols “not only providing reassurance but also acting as a deterrent”.

Martinborough Community Patrol chairwoman Pam Colenso said any property left in vehicles should be stored in the boot.

She reminds people to always lock their windows and doors before going out, or if working at the back of their properties.

“We strongly suggest being vigilant at all times and reporting anything suspicious to the police.”

Emily Ireland
Emily Ireland
Emily Ireland is Wairarapa’s Local Democracy Reporter, a Public Interest Journalism role funded through NZ On Air. Emily has worked at the Wairarapa Times-Age for seven years and has a keen interest in council decision-making and transparency.

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