A group of males wanted for a burglary in the western Southland threatened a property owner with a gun, according to police, who are also looking into a second burglary.
Police were called to a rural property in Colac Bay around 8 a.m. Thursday, seeking information about three vehicles: a silver/grey 1999 Subaru Impreza hatchback, a grey/blue Toyota Starlet hatchback (since recovered by police), and a red station wagon, which was seen in the area at the time and might be able to assist in the investigation, according to Detective Senior Sergeant Greg Baird.
On Wednesday night, the Subaru was allegedly stolen from the Wrights Bush neighborhood.
The four culprits were described as Mori men between the ages of 20 and 30, wearing high-visibility tops and attempting to steal fuel before being accosted by the property owner, according to Baird.
No one was hurt, and the gun was not fired, according to Baird.
He said the car was last spotted around 8.30 a.m. Thursday in the Colac Bay area, going west towards Tuatapere.
Police confirmed on Friday that the firearm was involved in the burglary and that they are investigating if a second burglary in the Round Hill area around the same time is linked to the Colac Bay incident, following a Thursday call for information about the burglary and the Subaru.
The Round Hill incident resulted in the theft of firearms, meat, tools, and a red and white Honda CRF230F motocross bike, according to Baird. Anyone with information, including sightings of cars or motorcycles in the Western Southland, should contact the police. Baird would not specify how many firearms were taken from the Round Hill property or whether any arrests had been made.
Colin Hurst, a spokesperson for Federated Farmer’s crime and police, said he was getting reports from throughout the country about an increase in fuel and livestock thefts, which he said correlated to higher prices for those products. Increased thefts have been observed in rural New Zealand during prior economic downturns, according to Hurst.
“On a national basis, we’re collaborating closely with the police.”
The last time Federated Farmers conducted a rural crime study was in early 2021. In the previous two years, 52.5 percent of the 1200 respondents had experienced or suspected a criminal incident.
According to the report, 71.4 percent of individuals who had been the victim of crime had been hit more than twice. According to Hurst, the three easiest ways to make a rural property safer were to not leave keys in vehicles, lock vehicles and doors, and install cameras and lighting.
He claimed that cameras were becoming increasingly affordable, to the point where having an infrared camera or surveillance system that could record a face or number plate did not cost much.
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