As the last weekend of April drew to an end, the town experienced an eventful night of inappropriate behaviour, with two windows smashed in Wanaka’s CBD.
The first was at the old Orient Express restaurant and the second at the Wanaka Pharmacy. Both Helwick Street businesses were targeted in the early hours of Sunday morning.
One man has been arrested for the second offence thanks to work by the Wanaka Community Patrol.
At 1.10am on April 29, Wanaka Police was notified of a window being smashed at the old Orient Express restaurant on Helwick Street, which was noticed by a passerby who quickly informed Wanaka Community Patrol (WCP).
Approximately 10 minutes later, another bystander alerted the community patrollers to a second window being smashed at the Wanaka Pharmacy. WCP alerted Police.
One of the accused is believed to have been evicted from Fitzpatricks Irish pub early on Sunday morning before making his way towards the pharmacy.
WCP often drive around town on Friday and Saturday nights from 10pm until 2am to “observe and report on trouble spots”.
The patrol arrived at the restaurant first, and notified the Police of the first window breakage. While they were waiting for Police, they caught sight of a person, fitting the description of the accused, running and decided to follow them.
“The offender ran off through the Bullock Bar car park and was located by Police in Lismore Park,” Senior Sergeant Allan Grindell said.
“He was arrested and charged with willful damage.”
The suspect, a 24-year-old man from Wanaka will appear in court on May 7, 2018 at Queenstown District Court.
A WCP spokesperson said, "I waited at the pharmacy as people coming out of the pubs were starting to look inside at the sunglasses and it looked as though they were helping themselves.”
As the Wanaka Sun went to print, no one had been charged with the damage to Orient Express, however, Wanaka Police is currently following up leads.
It is still unclear what was used to smash the window at the pharmacy, but a glazier has concluded that it was something heavier than a glass bottle that broke the windows as they are very thick.
Wanaka Pharmacy owner Aaron Heath said he was disappointed with the drunken behaviour.
“It’s the opportunistic behaviour of those people reaching for sunglasses that is really disappointing,” he said.
A stock count has not yet been conducted at the pharmacy, but Allan Grindell has said at this point nothing seems to have been taken.
The hard work of the community patrol did not go unnoticed. Aaron and his wife Nikki, who also own the Wanaka Sun, said they were grateful “to the local men and women who volunteer their time to protect our town as part of the Community Patrol.”
The Heaths had offered a reward to those patrol members that were on duty that night, but the offer was declined as the patrollers believed that the family had “lost enough” that night.
The WCP team is part of a national organisation and all the time and effort devoted to their additional work is voluntary, as each member also works full time.
The purpose of patrol is to support New Zealand Police to help reduce crime in the Wanaka region and build safer communities. There are 150 affiliated community patrols throughout New Zealand and its focus is ‘to assist as extra eyes and ears to Police and other agencies to build safer communities’.
WCP is currently asking for more help in the area and hoping for others to volunteer with them. For more information, visit Steve Worley at Kodak on the lakefront or visit cpnz.org.nz
Pictured above: Smashed window on Helwick Street, Wanaka. Photo: Nikki Heath / Wanaka Sun
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