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Rarotonga burglaries on the rise as businesses targeted

Wednesday 19 June 2024 | Written by Melina Etches | Published in Business, Crime, National

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Rarotonga burglaries on the rise as businesses targeted
Jason Pierre, owner of Next Shipment, looks at the new wall display shelf where phones were stolen from on Monday night/Tuesday morning. MELINA ETCHES/ 24061820

Burglaries are spiking in Rarotonga with two more break-ins reported yesterday by Vili’s Burger Joint in Matavera and Next Shipment in Arorangi.

These break-ins follow four reported cases over the weekend targeting businesses and government agencies.

The owners of Vili’s Burger Joint and Next Shipment took to social media yesterday to share their disappointments.

In footage posted on social media, the burglars behind these recent incidents appear to be highly aware of the security measures, dressing in hoodies and masks to conceal their identity and evading detection by surveillance cameras.

Jason Pierre, owner of Next Shipment, said the burglary was discovered by a worker who arrived at the Arorangi store early in the morning and found the doors unlocked and phones missing from the display wall shelf.

“They took all the latest (phones), pretty much our whole iPhone range that we just got in … and we were about to release our reconditioned phone range which is why we got the new display put in,” Pierre said.

Yesterday morning Pierre guessed around 45 phones had been stolen.

“We haven’t had a chance to look through all of it – the worst thing is they took a customer’s phone that we were preparing so I’m not looking forward to making that call… that’s pretty gutting.”

Pierre said the burglars stole all their latest iPhones from iPhone X to the iPhone 15, and the Pro Max versions worth about $1000 each.

Their latest Samsung phones S20, S21, S22, S23, S24, and the bigger phone versions are also missing.

Pierre is asking the community to be cautious and observant of people who are selling phones cheaply.

“If someone is trying to sell you an iPhone or Samsung phone for too cheap, then something is not right,” he said.

The burglars also broke open the till, taking cash and contents from the filing cabinet.

Pierre believes the burglars may have already canvassed his store since his desk “looked really bad” and the other desks were fine.

He said it appeared only small things like the phones were taken – things that could fit in a backpack, which makes him think the offenders might be “kids”.

Looking ahead, Pierre said: “I think we need to do an alarm with sensors.”

Police dusted the Next Shipment store for fingerprints yesterday morning.

Over the weekend two government agencies and two private businesses were targeted.

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

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

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

Yesterday Pitt said the Criminal Investigation Branch was investigating the break-ins.