Posted by Waikato Police on 01/02/2012
Waihi Police investigating what they describe as a new low in criminal offending say the only positive to come out of the theft of food from a funeral is the strong community reaction that resulted in the arrest of those responsible.
Sub-Area Supervisor, Senior Sergeant Rex Knight, said officers were genuinely shocked to receive a complaint that the town's War Memorial Hall had been broken into and food for a funeral stolen on Monday night.
"A caterer had been working like a Trojan preparing food for the funeral of a local stalwart who had been secretary of the Waihi Marae for several years.
"With a large gathering expected the caterer had been storing the food in fridges overnight in preparation for the funeral which was held yesterday morning."
Mr Knight said it appears the thieves gained entry into the hall through a window about 8.50pm but though they made off with their loot they obviously weren't expecting the reaction of locals.
"Waihi is a pretty close knit community and when news got out about what happened it wasn't just the Police on the offenders' tails. Thanks to all the support we were able to identify who was responsible and yesterday searched a Union St address and arrested a 40-year-old man for receiving.
"Overnight we also located and charged a 17-year-old man and charged him with burglary. Both men are appearing in the Hamilton District Court today while two boys, aged 14 and 12 were also identified and referred to Youth Aid."
Mr Knight said Police were also investigating any links between the burglary of the hall and other tagging in the town on Monday night and the burglary and tagging of a florist shop.
"We're keeping an open mind on if the incidents are linked and would appreciate any information, either to the Waihi Police Station on 07 863 8179 or anonymously to Crimestoppers on 0800 555111 from anyone with information on who was responsible.
"At this point it is very disappointing considering there is a strong likelihood the offenders knew the woman whose funeral they stole from. Having said that, we have gained some reassurance that there still are a lot of very good, community minded people in Waihi."
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