A meeting is being held in the Vaimaanga Meeting House today at 6pm to discuss the issues, provide a progress report and to hear suggested solutions to the problems being faced by the community.
The initiative is being led by the village mataiapo, Maui Mataiapo and the pu tapere, Vaevae Tangiiti, assisted by members of the Vaimaanga community.
Nadine Newnham said the nature of victims being targeted by the thieves had changed over time.
“In the past the criminals have been targeting mainly holiday accommodation and stealing cash and small electronics. But this is now changing with locals, including the elderly, being targeted.”
An initial meeting was held two weeks ago for the community to contribute ideas to combat the criminals, who are angering both locals and tourists.
Newnham said police officers will also be attending the meeting so they can work together with residents to help protect their homes and businesses.
“Residents have vowed to be far more vigilant around people dressed or acting in a suspicious manner and have rolled out a number of measures to date including installation of security lights and cameras on private properties, adoption of guard dogs, and the employment of security consultants.”
Significant rewards are about to be offered to those who identify offenders who are subsequently prosecuted.
Despite police efforts in recently identifying and arresting young offenders who they believed were responsible for the Vaimaanga robberies, the burglaries have continued. Residents have vowed to increase their efforts and are in the process of installing community-wide monitored surveillance cameras. They will also be seeking volunteers to support the Titikaveka Neighborhood Watch group. A text distribution list is being created to notify a wide group of residents of any suspicious behaviour at any time of day or night and organisers have vowed to ensure that a quick response group will assist anyone who believes offenders are attacking their property.
Of concern to residents, and to law enforcers, is the groundswell of anger that is leading a small group of persons planning to take justice into their own hands. Local leaders have advised this group not to take violent retribution against any offenders as they believe it could escalate the crime spree. Some residents have, however, vowed to protect their property by whatever means necessary.
All residents and interested parties are encouraged to attend this evening’s meeting.