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Weekend burglaries target businesses and government agencies

Tuesday 18 June 2024 | Written by Rashneel Kumar | Published in Crime, National


Weekend burglaries target businesses and government agencies

A string of burglaries has caused a major concern for Cook Islands Police, adding pressure to their staffing capacity, a spokesperson said.

Two government agencies and two private businesses were targeted over the weekend.

Cook Islands Police spokesperson Trevor Pitt said there were “suspected linkages” between these burglary cases.

Police received two burglaries reports over the weekend and two early yesterday morning.

One break-in occurred at a private business in Nikao while the other was committed on a government agency, in the town area, over the weekend.

Early yesterday, a burglary was reported at a business premises followed by a report of a break in at the second government department.

“This is major concern for Police. This ups our monthly total to serious level and adds pressure onto our staffing capacity,” Pitt said.

Last month Pitt said the force was short of between 30-40 police officers. He then said they have had no recruiting for two years and vacancies were not being filled even as staff continue to be drained from the roster. The main reason for the loss was remuneration levels; and an irrelevant organisational structure (currently being addressed), he added.

Pitt yesterday said the string of break-ins was “indicative of the same culprit or culprits at work”.

He added the list of missing items is still being finalised.

One of the businesses targeted during the weekend was CITC Supermarket.

CITC general manager Gaye Whitta told Cook Islands News the Supermarket was broken into Sunday night.

“There were some products stolen and damage caused to our premises and equipment,” Whitta said.

“There has been no impact on our business today (yesterday). Our doors opened as normal at 8am.”

Pitt also said one motorbike was reported stolen from outside the Roadhouse in Arorangi on Friday night.

Last week police said they recorded another “blow out” month in motorcycle theft cases after 15 were reported stolen in May.

In April, police recorded the highest number of reported stolen motorbikes with 16 thefts.

Pitt earlier said they have identified a suspect believed to be responsible for the recent motorcycle thefts.

“Juvenile offender is one of our main suspects for stolen bikes, so far.”

While earlier reports indicated a low recovery rate for stolen motorbikes, with less than a 50 per cent chance, Pitt stated in May that only five motorbikes had been found, and one of those was a recovered stolen bike.

Meanwhile, police confirmed the airlift and escort to Rarotonga of the body of a 27-year-old man out of Aitutaki on Saturday night.

Pitt said the case was referred to the coroner. 

“He had suffered a medical issue while on a tour yesterday afternoon (Saturday),” Pitt confirmed.

“The visiting Cook Islands man is expected to be repatriated to family in New Zealand.”