Anger at Flaxmere window smashing spreeSave
By Nicki Harper
The Flaxmere community is losing patience with groups of young people who have been smashing shop and building windows around the centre of the village over the past few weeks.
The latest vandalism happened between 12.30am and 1am on Saturday, locals said.
Yesterday morning repairs were being made to windows at the St Vincent de Paul, Bay Sushi, Flaxmere Dental and Learning Innovations premises.
It was the fourth time Bay Sushi's windows have been smashed and a staff member said it was getting very frustrating.
"They did it for nothing - they did not even break in.
"The landlord is getting very annoyed at constantly having to repair the windows that are being broken at the same time on Saturday and Sunday mornings."
They said the trouble started last year and "it's going on and on".
St Vincent de Paul manager George David said one window was broken about a week ago, but all the shop's windows were smashed in the latest hit.
"Everybody is very disappointed, they are asking 'why is this happening?'." he said.
Security patrols and CCTV cameras are set up around the area so he could not understand how the vandals were getting away with it.
"It's not a good look for Flaxmere - these youths do not seem to have any respect."
Another person spoken to yesterday said the windows were being smashed with rocks.
He said he went to the village shopping precinct on Saturday night and 14 to 15 boys and girls were hanging around there and the skate bowl. Some were on the roof of the New World, which had also been targeted over recent weeks.
Hawke's Bay police sergeant Dean Lyall confirmed the police were investigating wilful damage in Flaxmere village over the past month.
"We believe they have occurred after 9pm at weekends, and while police have identified a number of persons of interest, evidence is still being compiled and the investigation is ongoing."
He said extra police patrols had been organised for Flaxmere and community patrols were also assisting.
"Police recognise that these incidents are frustrating for business owners."
Along with the shops, community facilities such as the Flaxmere Library, Swim Heretaunga, and the Boxing Academy at the back of the Community Centre have also been repeatedly attacked, and recently a fire was set at the skate bowl.
Hastings District Council facility manager Alison Banks said the community was very upset.
"This is not normal behaviour and we need the parents of these children to put a stop to their offspring roaming around at night doing damage to buildings that are there for our community to use," she said.
Footage from CCTV cameras was being supplied to police.
So far the cost to repair the pool windows alone had reached $10,000.
"There seems to be no real reason for this vandalism and it is very disappointing. We all pay for council facilities, whether through rates or rent, and all these kids are doing is adding to that bill."
Hastings district councillor Henare O'Keefe, who founded the Boxing Academy, said the vandalism could not just be left to the police.
"As a community we have to band together - someone will know who these people are and we have to make them accountable in some way."
He also suggested that changing the behaviour involved not only dealing with the young people, but also getting their parents and families on board.
"There are no guarantees but if you don't go down that road these kids don't stand a chance."
If you have information, call Hastings Central Police Station (06) 831 0700, or details can be passed anonymously to Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.