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Waihī Neighbourhood Support co-ordinator Sacha Urlich addresses the crowd. Photo: ALICE PARMINTER

Crime concerns addressed for Waihī residents

Waihī residents were given an opportunity to voice their concerns about a perceived rise in crime on April 5, following a flurry of social media activity.

Local Facebook groups had been seeing increasing numbers of posts about break-ins, crime, and suspicious people. The rising feeling of angst and unease prompted Waihī Neighbourhood Support co-ordinator Sacha Urlich to schedule a public meeting.

The meeting, held at the Waihī Baptist Church, was attended by around 100 concerned local residents. The speakers were representatives from Neighbourhood Support, Waihī Community Patrol, Police, and Hauraki District Council’s Civil Defence/emergency management team, among others.

“It’s people being anxious – feeling like there’s nothing happening,” Sacha said.

“I think some good traction will come out of [the meeting], and that’s what we wanted.”

The meeting was primarily an information session. It covered details including contacting police on 111 for an emergency or 105 to make a report; protecting your home from crime by using sensor lights, alarms and CCTV, having dogs, making a place look occupied, locking doors, and installing window stays; and having a plan in case of emergencies like weather events.

There was also some lively debate from people who had been victims of burglaries and other crime, questioning the speakers about resources available in the area.

Senior Constable Harley North urged people to contact police in the first instance, and to not use Facebook as a primary means of reporting suspicious behaviour or crimes.

“We know there’s a whole heap of crime in the community that goes unreported,” he said.

“That’s not helpful for New Zealand Police. We need to know what crimes are occuring in the community, no matter how small or how big.”

He also spoke about the police presence in Waihī, stating that the police station was usually staffed during regular business hours. On those occasions that police were not in the station, it was because they were on patrol and Police could always be reached via the contact button in front of the station.

Constable North said crime numbers tended to drop substantially whenever an offender was caught.

“Our staff arrested one of our prolific burglars here in Waihī on the weekend,” he said.

“All it takes is for us to get another couple of [arrests] and I think you’ll see that all of a sudden the burglaries in Waihī will drop way off.”

Waihī’s community patrol and neighbourhood support were also present at the meeting. The Hauraki town currently has only three community patrol members, and there are 47 neighbourhood support groups in Waihī township.

Neighbourhood support groups are hyper-local, keeping an eye on their road or a small section of the community, while community patrollers take to the streets in a marked car to act as a second set of eyes for police. Both groups were keen for more volunteers.

There was a surge of interest from meeting attendees, with around 40 people indicating their interest in joining one of the groups.

“It’s all about looking out for ourselves and our neighbours,” Neighbourhood Support district support co-ordinator Chris Smith said.

“It’s just communicating with each other and being aware.”


6 frontline police staff in
17 burglaries across Waihī and Waihī Beach in the 31 days to April 5
2 burglaries in Waihī between March 31 and April 5
80 per cent of crime caused by 10 per cent of offenders
3 community patrol members in Waihī
47 neighbourhood support groups in Waihī
24/7: Waihī’s available police presence
Call 111 for emergencies
Call 105 for non-urgent police enquiries

By ALICE PARMINTER, Public Interest Journalism funded by NZ on Air