Opportunist thief granted bail

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A 33-year-old local man was granted bail on Friday after taking advantage of the nationwide lockdown and targeting empty businesses in central Whakatane.

The offender stands accused of breaking into and burglarising local businesses while the Whakatane central business district is deserted due to the lockdown and closure of non-essential businesses.

Senior Sergeant Al Fenwick said it was deplorable people would take advantage of the lockdown in such a way.

“People taking advantage during a nationwide emergency are the lowest of the low … they should be taken down.”

Police have increased patrols for local business, which Mr Fenwick said should give peace of mind to owners during an already tumultuous time.

“These extra patrols should give our business owners some peace of mind, and for those taking advantage, we won’t hesitate to throw the book at them.”

Senior Sergeant Mark van der Kley told the Beacon the man was granted bail in the Whakatane District Court and was subject to a 24-hour curfew.

Police will perform regular check-ups to the address to ensure the man is adhering to his bail conditions.

Overall, he said there had been reduced crime in the region since the lockdown and police were grateful for how the majority of the public were behaving at this unprecedented time.

hazel.osborne@thebeacon.co.nz