Gas station raids linked?

INVESTIGATION: A police graphic showing the locations connected to the string of aggravated burglaries. Graphic supplied.

Police say they cannot rule out a link between the four service station burglaries in Pakuranga last week.

The three stolen cars used in the aggravated burglaries were taken from and dumped at similar locations in close proximity to each other and all the offences occurred in the early hours of the morning at 24 hour service stations – three of them on Pakuranga Road and one on Reeves Road.

Cigarettes and cash were targeted.

The vehicles used in the burglaries – which occurred within four days of each other – were stolen from Howick and Half Moon Bay and were later dumped in Bucklands Beach and Mellons Bay.

The officer in charge of the Counties Manukau Police major crime team, detective senior sergeant Albie Alexander, is appealing to residents in those areas to be vigilant and has asked that any suspicious activity be reported to police immediately.

He told the Times that police cannot rule out a link between the four offences.

The first of the four burglaries occurred at about 4.20am on December 5 (Monday) at the BP service station on Pakuranga Road. Three offenders smashed their way into the store and made off with cigarettes and a number of other items.

The silver Mazda Atenza they used in the burglary was stolen from Howick and was later dumped in Bucklands Beach.

The sole service station attendant on duty at the time was unharmed in the incident.

The next morning (Tuesday, December 6), shortly before 2am, the Caltex service station on Pakuranga Road was ram-raided.

The red Mazda Familia used by the offenders had been stolen from Half Moon Bay and was dumped in Mellons Bay following the incident.

A staff member at Caltex told the Times that the car rammed through the doors – there were no bollards protecting the doors – and two offenders stole cigarettes and two tills.

The employee on duty ran out the back and was unhurt.

Two more service stations were then burgled last Thursday morning (December 8).

A white Subaru Legacy stolen from Howick was used in both and was later dumped in Bucklands Beach on the corner of Macleans Road and Bleakhouse Road, not far from where the other two stolen cars were left.

The Gull service station on Reeves Road was hit first, shortly before 1.40am, with the three offenders using a hammer to break in.

The Z service station on Pakuranga Road was robbed in the early hours of this morning. Times photo Emma Smith.

A Gull spokesman told the Times that there was one staff member on duty at the time and that the offenders smashed through glass to get in.

They stole cigarettes.

The staff member managed to get to a safe room, the spokesman said, and was left shaken but unhurt.

He said the Gull service station on Reeves Road had now installed a new cigarette dispensing system following the burglary, so only one packet comes out at a time for future protection.

About five minutes after the Gull service station burglary, the three offenders in the stolen Subaru arrived at the Z service station on Pakuranga Road and again used a hammer to break in.

Z’s corporate communications manager Jonathan Hill told the Times from Wellington that the offenders got away with a small amount of tobacco.

“They smashed their way into the site. The person [on shift] got to the secure part of the site,” he said.

The staff member was unhurt and was offered counselling.

Mr Hill said the Z service station on Pakuranga Road basically carries no cash on the premises.

The company has introduced a range of measures in a bid to minimise burglaries, he said.

“We’ve implemented a programme of increased security over the last 12 months costing millions of dollars making [burglary] of Z sites unattractive.

“It’s very disappointing this has happened.”

Detective senior sergeant Albie Alexander said police are looking for information regarding the movements of the three stolen vehicles around those times last week, as well as information on any suspicious activity around the locations where the cars were stolen and dumped.

“Further information regarding suspicious cigarette sales is also sought as the property stolen must be being disposed of by the suspects,” Mr Alexander said.

“Persons identified as having received the stolen goods will be dealt with as the law allows.”

He said the Counties Manukau Police major crime team is now reviewing the incidents.

Any information can be phoned into Crimestoppers on 0800 555111 or Counties Manukau Police on (09) 261 1300.

– Additional reporting by Nick Krause and Laura Brookes