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‘Malicious’ damage, theft

Police are investigating a spate of seemingly malicious and targeted attacks on a building company.

A routine weekend patrol in Riversdale turned into a burglary investigation after police were alerted to theft and damage totalling $3500 at three Thistle Building Company sites.

Company co-owner Sophie Stewart said the incidents were the first in Thistle’s 16-year history.

“They targeted three different sites out at Riversdale Village Beach. The damage is quite malicious. It’s awful.”

Stewart said large company building signs had been deliberately torn down and vandalised, and equipment was stolen from the sites.

She said it was the theft of the health and safety equipment that was particularly alarming.

Riversdale has boomed in recent years, with multiple subdivisions and new builds springing up in the coastal settlement.

Despite multiple sites currently under construction, it was only Thistle’s that were hit, Stewart said.

“It’s a bit sad that someone would do that. Our personal reaction is that it’s highly suspicious; it feels targeted. Police are continuing to investigate and are doing a forensic examination of the signs.”

Masterton Sergeant Steve Cameron said until the facts were established, police cannot speculate on a motive, but conceded it looked like the same building company was targeted at three sites between Friday night and Saturday morning.

While the sign damage was not typical, building site theft is – “We deal with about three building site burglaries a week in Wairarapa” – although this is the first report of damage to new builds in Riversdale.

Cameron said it was standard to receive reports of up to 10-12 burglaries in Wairarapa a week – from push-bikes to breaking and entering – meaning, on average, 25-30 per cent of burglaries are building site-related.

He said despite increased awareness of building sites being targeted, reports had remained consistent.

“Builders need to be aware that anything that is removable onsite is a target for offenders.

“We are encouraging people doing house builds to lock up securely, and provide some other security on site, like alarming their sheds. People target new builds because they can find perfectly new tools that are really easy to move.”

Cameron said anyone seen trying to sell cheap tools should be reported to the police and appealed to the public for information about the theft and damage in Riversdale.

“We like to solve all crime, and they have done thousands of dollars’ worth of damage to their site.”

People who saw suspicious activity in Riversdale late Friday, March 17 and early Saturday March 18 can contact Sergeant Steve Cameron at Masterton police: 06 370 0300.

Mary Argue
Mary Argue
Mary Argue is a reporter at the Wairarapa Times-Age with an interest in justice and the region’s emergency services, regularly covering Masterton District Court, Fire and Emergency and Police.

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