Crime wave prompts campaign for cameras

Jeremey and Emma Holman are fed up with regular break-ins at the Baxter Street carpark.

Frustration at the number of vehicle break-ins on the top level of the Baxter Street carpark in Warkworth has prompted a local man to launch a fundraising campaign for more security cameras.

Matters came to head for Jeremey Holman late last month when his daughter’s car, a Mazda Demio, had a rear window smashed in.

Thieves found nothing of value and insurance paid to repair the damage.

But Jeremey’s daughter, Emma Holman, 16, says her workmates at the New World Supermarket, opposite the carpark, report similar incidents with their cars about every second week.

“Cars are egged, windows are smashed, number plates are taken, cars are stolen and stuff is stolen from cars,” she says.

She says it is tough on colleagues, most of whom earn only a minimum wage.  

Supermarket staff are not permitted to park on the lower level, which is reserved for New World customers.

Jeremey says there is parking by the river, but he considers it unsafe for his daughter to park there if she must return to the vehicle after working a late night.

Currently, a single fixed camera monitors the entrance to the upper level of the carpark, but no cameras monitor what is going on in the carpark itself.

The upper level of the carpark is managed by Auckland Council but, after making enquiries, Jeremey was told there was no budget to install more cameras.

Next Jeremey contacted Insite Security and was advised that a good point, tilt and zoom camera, which can turn automatically and monitor the entire carpark, could be secured for around $2500 plus installation costs.

Jeremey anticipates the camera would not be continuously monitored, but footage could be reviewed to identify criminal offenders.

Jeremey has set up a Safer Warkworth Facebook page and a Give a Little fundraising page and is inviting the public to donate cash for one or more cameras.

He is especially hoping local businesses, which benefit from the carpark, will get behind the effort.    

Jeremey says if the idea gains momentum money could be raised for more cameras in other crime hotspots, saying he has noticed a huge increase in petty crime in Warkworth in recent years.

“I don’t want people to live in fear, but we have got to be prepared,” he says.

The camera initiative has the backing of Warkworth police chief Sergeant Bede Haughey, who acknowledges the carpark was an area of concern for police.

He says CCTV cameras have been effective in reducing crime in other areas in Warkworth such as in the Central Business District and at the wharf.

“Even the half-clever criminals soon get to know which areas are being monitored and which areas are not,” he says.      

Rodney Local Board chair Beth Houlbrooke says Council does not routinely pay for the installation of security cameras in carparks, they are normally supplied through business associations to make towns more attractive to shoppers.

She warmly endorsed Jeremey Holman’s initiative.

“You can often get things done a lot quicker with a private initiative than trying to get Council or some other organisation to get on board,” she says.

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