And the body comprising Cook Islands high chiefs is keen to take a proactive approach in combating this issue.
On day two of the 47th House of Ariki Conference 2018 at the Betela Meeting House in Arorangi yesterday, the traditional leaders deliberated on ways to keep the youth of the country away from ending up on the wrong side of the law.
Their concern came after a presentation from Cook Islands Police Inspector John Strickland and Blue Light Cook Islands’ Mike Mills and Thomas on the rise in burglaries cases and in particular, the increase in juveniles committing such crime.
House of Ariki secretary Puna Rakanui says the House of Ariki may not be seen as the agent to bring change to the current rate of burglaries and other crimes, but they can make a difference.
“I do believe when the Ui Ariki speaks, it can make a difference. We have to be proactive in dealing with such issues,” says Rakanui,
“This (increase in burglaries) is a big concern to us because it’s not only affecting the communities, but it’s also affecting our number one industry, which is tourism.
“We have got to do something about it … what is causing this problem and what are the solutions.”
The half-year crime statistics released by the Cook Islands Police Service last month show burglaries are on the rise.
The latest figures show the total number of reported burglary incidents to the end of June was 85, up from 78 for the same half-year period in 2017, and the 57 in 2016.
For the month of June, the break-ins were fairly evenly split between Te au o Tonga (town) and Takitumu (mainly Vaimaanga and Ngatangiia). Most were inflicted upon resorts/holiday bungalows (seven out of 12).
Two thirds of the victims of June burglaries were away from the property (at the time of the burglaries), leaving valuables at risk to opportunist or roaming offenders. Electronics topped the list of stolen items, followed by cash.
Blue Light Cook Islands, which links police and community, with a focus on youth, is planning on running Blue Edge programme in each vaka, starting with Puaikura, in a bid to combat burglaries, especially those committed by the juveniles.
Blue Light Cook Islands’ Wynne said this programme would focus on equipping young people with tools to be productive.
Meanwhile a wide range of issues from social to economical will be discussed in the House of Ariki Conference which is expected to end this Sunday.
The conference is attended by 20 participants which includes 16 Ui Arikis and other representatives from the 24 tribes in the Cook Islands.
“We are trying to squeeze everything in two to three days because most of Ui Ariki are leaving back to the outer islands so it’s a very tight schedule for us and we hope to wrap up everything by Sunday,” Rakanui said.
The conference started with an opening service at the CICC Nikao Church attended by the likes of House of Ariki president Kaumaiti Nui Tou Travel Ariki, deputy prime minister Mark Brown and the minister for the House of Ariki, George Maggie.