Frustration in Waipa at centralised PoliceSave
By Hunter Calder
Criminal activity in the Waipa District is on the increase, with more than four ram-raids in the region within the last month.
And there's growing concerns that criminals are moving south, targeting smaller communities - with the knowledge that fewer police officers are around.
Michael Waters and his brother Richard own Stirling Sports in Te Awamutu, their store has been ram-raided twice since the beginning of the year.
Michael Waters says on both occasions police responded almost immediately, but he's worried criminals are picking up on the fact that police presence is sometimes stretched because they have to service such a large region.
"We're starting to see an increase in the rural type of offences is because of the fact that they know that there's only generally one car, two officers available. So it makes it a lot easier for them (criminals) to be in and out and gone, and I mean if they (criminals) can distract them (police) somewhere else it makes it even easier."
Mayor of the Waipa district Jim Mylchreest says it is a widespread sentiment amongst his constituents - who don't believe police have the resources to support the Waipa district.
"Individually the police officers are fantastic, but the real problem that the Waipa community has is that the new (police) hubs that are being set up around the country mean that particularly after hours it's difficult for members of the public to actually contact the police."
Mr Mylchreest says when police are encouraging people to support community patrols and encouraging councils to put more surveillance there's a clear sign that police are stretched and unable to cope.
Sharlene Campbell has owned menswear store Campbell Lane in Te Awamutu for ten years and says some elderly people and business owners have been living in a state of concern ever since the ram-raids started.
"There's just the uncertainty, are they (police) going to come, who do we ring, do we have to start doing calls through shopkeeper to shopkeeper to help look after each other."