Sep. 11, 2009

Cigarette thieves hit councillor's business

A Wanganui businessman and district councillor is several thousand dollars out of pocket after burglars smashed into his Westmere service station.
Ray Stevens, who owns Double S Motordrome on State Highway 3, said the two burglars took less than two minutes to break into the station, grab cigarettes and tobacco, and leave.
“They were definitely professionals – they knew what they were after.”
Mr Stevens said he has video footage of the break-in early on Thursday, which the police have seen. Several weapons, including a hammer, were also found near the service station.
Mr Stevens is offering a $1000 reward -- $500 for return of the stolen goods and $500 for information leading to an arrest.
Senior sergeant Dave Kirby from Wanganui police said that in the past two weeks there had been several Wanganui premises targeted for cigarettes, tobacco and cash.
“These things go in phases and we seem to be in a phase where [burglars] are after cigarettes and cash.”Mr Kirby said it was a timely reminder for businesses who kept cigarettes on their premises to ensure they had adequate security. 
Meanwhile, Manawatu police are investigating a possible link between a service station burglary yesterday morning and a series of other burglaries in the region recently.
One man appeared in Palmerston North District Court and another is due to appear next week after two men broke into the Ashhurst Service Station and stole a cigarette stand.
Police chased the men for 30 minutes before they were finally stopped by road spikes in Foxton.
Detectives were investigating whether the burglary was linked to service station ramraids and burglaries in Rongotea, Foxton and Sanson in recent months.
Police spokeswoman Kim Perks said the Westmere burglary was some distance from the Manawatu burglaries, but there were some similarities between them that had police interested.
“At this stage we can’t say there’s a link but we will certainly be looking into it.”