By Alisa Yong
The Adamson’s service station in Featherston has been raided for cigarettes in what police say is the third tobacco burglary to strike the region in recent months.
Two thieves wearing hoodies and bandannas smashed their way into the store at about 4am yesterday, rummaging around the store and making a messy search of the office before breaking into a locked cabinet.
They made off with about $3000 worth of cigarettes.
Manager Maria Berry said the burglary was “gutting” and a waste of staff time.
“It just mucks you up for the day, really, and then there’s so many phone calls to make.”
The theft had “absolutely” made her nervous about selling cigarettes, she said.
“We have to weigh up the options and whether it’s worth stocking them because there’s little or no profit in them. We will have to consider all the options.”
Yesterday’s burglary comes just a month after Martinborough supermarket P&K lost tens of thousands of dollars’ worth of cigarettes in an overnight raid.
Days later a pair of thieves tried to steal hundreds of cigarettes from the Caltex Solway in Masterton.
One was caught not far from the scene after an alert neighbour raised the alarm.
The P&K burglars have yet to be caught, although police say they are investigating some strong leads.
Another Martinborough retailer, Kitchener’s Cafe and Dairy, recently gave up selling tobacco after being broken into three times in five years, with tobacco the target each time.
South Wairarapa sergeant Richie Day said cigarettes were a high commodity item, and would always be targeted.
“Tobacco has always been a desirable commodity for burglars to target, and retailers have unfortunately been the victims of this.
“Police are always willing to provide advice around security to these retailers and act in a proactive way to prevent these type of offences.
“We also reiterate that burglars need to sell the stolen items to people and would ask anyone that is offered cheap tobacco products to resist the temptation and contact police.”
Acting chief executive at Retail NZ Scott Fisher said he hoped the price hikes on tobacco would not create a black market.
“While the Government is working to reducing smoking rates with tax increases and standardised packaging proposal, it would be unfortunate if new regulations had unintended consequences, such as pushing people towards black market sources of tobacco products.
“This could create real security risks for small stores such as corner dairies.
“Tobacco is already a key target for thieves, and we are concerned that making it even more expensive through tax hikes will make it even more attractive to criminals.”
Anyone with information regarding the burglary was urged to contact police.