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Second arrest for home invasion

Wairarapa Police Area Commander Scott Miller. PHOTO/FILE

ALEYNA MARTINEZ
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A second arrest has been made in relation to the aggravated robbery of a Carterton home during the early hours of last Saturday.

Hutt Valley detectives and the Armed Offenders Squad ran a search warrant in Wainuiomata on Thursday and a 26-year-old man was arrested.

He appeared in Hutt Valley District Court on Friday on charges of aggravated robbery and possession of a shotgun.

A 30-year-old man was arrested earlier this week after police ran a search warrant and recovered items stolen in the robbery at a Hutt Valley property.

He appeared in court charged with aggravated robbery and possession of a firearm.

Wairarapa Police Area Commander Scott Miller said Saturday’s home invasion in Carterton was gang-related.

Including this arrest, two of the four offenders have been caught, and one has been identified by police.

There is no threat to the wider public, police said.

“Very rarely, we’ll have a normal family in Wairarapa where someone busts into the house for no reason,” Miller said.

Several gang-on-gang crimes aren’t reported to police, he said..

“What’s common in New Zealand is what we call home invasions for taking purposes – but it’s normally gang on gang, gang on drug dealer, or drug dealer on drug dealer.

Miller said in last October’s home invasion in Featherston where two armed men held a family at gunpoint, the house they broke into was “by mistake”.

“But having said that, that house still had an association to the criminal element,” he said.

“It’s extremely rare for someone to come in off the street and break into your house – there’s always something behind it.”

Over covid-19 lockdown, gang activity stuck out like a sore thumb, making it easier for police to confiscate illegal firearms.

Miller said illegal firearms were one of Wairarapa’s biggest crime issues, and police came across them about once a week. The majority of those cases were related to drugs.

Modified weapons were most common in Wairarapa and defined by the cutting of the barrel.

“Also the stick is often cut down as well so they’re modified and easier to conceal,” Miller said.

A modified weapon was used in Saturday’s home invasion in Carterton.

Homemade weapons were not as common in Wairarapa but were still found as recently as a bail check in Alert Level 4.

“The people inside were found to be using drugs so [police] searched that address … One of the people there had some skills and they were making more sophisticated firearms but also converting current firearms.”

Miller said homemade weapons were “dangerous and can potentially blow up with the user so they’re not popular”.

With the announcement that New Zealand will not have Armed Response Teams, Miller said, “Frontline police particularly need to have access to firearms because they will come into situations on a reasonably regular basis where they need that firearms option”.

In those cases, the Armed Offenders Squad were called from Wellington to assist Wairarapa police.

Miller said one way to reduce the sale of guns in the black market was to turn in guns that are no longer used or not locked away properly.

He commended Wairarapa’s legal firearms holders, particularly rural residents with licences because they are mostly found to be kept locked away in safes and separate from ammunition.

He encouraged anyone with unused firearms on their property or who knew about weapons in the possession of unlicensed people to ring the arms officer at the police station.

“We can get it sorted and out of the house so it can’t be taken in burglaries,” Miller said.

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