Hamilton residents are being urged to stay vigilant and report suspicious activity around community owned assets after vandalism, break-ins and thefts at sites managed by Hamilton City Council.
In the last two months, four separate sites have been targeted by criminals – including vandalism of a public toilet block in Frankton’s Swarbrick Park, which had been completely refurbished after a suspicious fire in 2018.
Maria Barrie, the Council’s Parks and Recreation Manager, says the other three sites targeted in recent weeks have been Norris Ward Park (where a break-in occurred at the Norris Ward Arts Centre), and Te Rapa Sportsdrome, where cars and the building itself have been broken into on several occasions and thieves stole a barbecue. Storage sheds at the Stadium Bowling Club have also been broken into.
“This is extremely frustrating for our staff, the public and our stakeholders,” Ms Barrie says.
“Damage, theft and vandalism ultimately costs ratepayers’ money and mean we have to divert funding away from other projects.”
Ms Barrie says staff are working with the Council’s CitySafe unit and tenant and stakeholder organisations to determine how criminal behaviour can be deterred – but the support of the community is vital.
“We report all these instances to New Zealand Police, and our message to the community is for them to support us with that. If any members of the public see suspicious or criminal activity in or near any of our buildings or sites, we want them to contact police and the Council.”
Cr Dave Macpherson is actively involved with Waikato Volleyball – which has a long-term presence at Te Rapa Sportsdrome – and says the thefts “reflect badly on us as event and sports organisers”.
Cars broken into at Te Rapa Sportsdrome belonged to volleyball players and the organisation would be ensuring it had people monitoring the site when it had events on.
Information on the break-ins or vandalism can be reported to Hamilton Police, Crimestoppers (0800 555 111) or the Council.