The recent spate of burglaries of elderly residents in Oamaru has prompted Age Concern and Waitaki Community Patrol to take action.
The two organisations have got together and reassured Waitaki District Council pensioner tenants they are there to help and plan to start daytime patrols.
“The tenants are nervous and have been going into Age Concern,” said Brian Dark, Waitaki Community Patrol chairman.
“Wayne Stringer, of Age Concern, spoke to me and asked if there was anything we could do. We’ve both now sent a letter out to the tenants.”
The letter reassured the tenants and advised that the two organisations and Oamaru Police were working closely together to reduce crime and keep the community safe.
The letter said community patrol officers would always be in a marked car, wearing high visibility vests and carrying ID.
Age Concern chairperson Heather McElroy welcomed the community patrol’s involvement and concern.
“I think it’s great. The older tenants are worried and a bit edgy at the moment,” she said.
Age Concern has contracts to look after council flat residents in Aln, College, Dacre, Exe, Reed, Swale and Usk streets – nearly 70 flats in total.
While the recent burglaries were a major worry, trouble had been ongoing, Mrs McElroy said.
“Just little things like taking garden ornaments. I think they wait until the police patrols go past. It’s a violation.”
Young people were suspected and Mrs McElroy said she believed only a small number were causing the trouble.
“There are some very special young people out there.”
Community patrols go out on Friday and Saturday evenings. Mr Dark said they would start daytime patrolling in the New Year.
“We’ve got 19 active members and go out in threes, but we will cut that down to two.”
Among the elderly residents who have been burgled in Oamaru recently was a 94-year old-man, a World War 2 veteran, who was held down by the offenders while they burgled his home.
Inquiries continue into the burglary.
Waitaki Community Patrol has been operating for a year. In that time, Mr Dark said they had attended a large number of incidents and patrolled extensively around Oamaru, Weston, Kakanui and as far away as Herbert, Gemmels Crossing and Totara.
By CHRIS TOBIN