The North Haven Hospice Shop on Robert St, Whangārei, was targeted by thieves. Photo / Michael Cunningham
Two rings worth more than $4000 were stolen from a charity shop that raises vital money to support terminally ill Northlanders.
The overnight theft from the North Haven Hospice Shop in Whangārei is a major blow to the charity, as it needs to raise roughly $8000 a day to keep afloat.
The store’s retail manager Kathy McMillan said a man and a woman, who appeared to be in their 20s, had defied the shop’s alarms during Tuesday night’s break-in.
Around 3am the pair could be seen on CCTV using a tool at the base of the door to shift the large wooden chocks securing the entrance.
“They ran back over to the car park across the road and waited to see what was going to happen.”
The pair, undeterred, returned 20 minutes later.
The woman paced the footpath outside the shop’s Robert St entrance while the man pried the door open just enough for them to squeeze through.
“It looked like they knew exactly what they were after,” McMillan said.
The pair grabbed the rings, which McMillan said had been advertised online and in an unusual move were inside the store that night, and fled.
She was unsure as to why the alarm didn’t sound.
Volunteers arrived on Wednesday morning to find the doors wide open and several items thrown on the ground. It was quickly realised the rings were missing.
McMillan said this was the first time in her 16 years at the shop they had been burgled.
“I’ve had people that pinch the odd thing or two but nothing like this.”
She was disappointed the pair had stolen the equivalent of a night’s palliative care for two patients.
“We provide a free service for our community. That is what they are taking away from,” McMillan said.
“It’s becoming really difficult for charities to raise money.”
North Haven Hospice engagement manager Lyn Cheyne said the Government provided around 50 per cent of the charity’s funding.
But the remaining annual $3 million shortfall had to be made up by North Haven itself to keep its doors open.
“That’s around $8k a day that we have to find and the shop is a key part of that,” Cheyne said.
So losing $4k to theft is a significant blow to their fundraising efforts, she said, that allows Hospice to provide holistic support to patients and their families, even after loved ones have died.
“They’re stealing from their own community, potentially even their own loved ones in the future.”
The shop was not the only premise to fall foul to thieves on Tuesday night.
Whangārei Police confirmed they were investigating at least three commercial burglaries in the area overnight.
A police spokesperson said two were unsuccessful, and a vehicle was used to gain entry to a third business.
The first attempt occurred at a store on Port Rd at around 5am.
The spokesperson said bollards installed outside the store thwarted offenders’ attempts to gain entry and they left.
Nearly 10 minutes later, a Maunu Rd liquor store was targeted in a failed burglary.
After 6am, a car was used to ram-raid GAS Ruakākā on Port Marsden Highway. The offenders then fled.
A lengthy police chase on Wednesday morning caught the public’s attention. Police were seen tailing a silver car through Otaika, State Highway 14, Maunu, and Tikipunga – where the vehicle was eventually dumped.
The car, whose driver and passengers were wearing all black with masks covering the lower half of their faces, was seen speeding through bustling morning traffic and at times crossing the centre line.
Police did not say whether this was linked to the attempted burglaries or ram-raid.
Police are continuing to investigate whether the incidents are linked. They have asked the public to relay any information connected to the incidents via 105 or anonymously on Crime Stoppers – 0800 555 111.