Queenstown police warn the cold weather has sparked an annual spike in the theft of coats and bags from resort bars.
“This type of crime has been an acute problem during the winter months for the past few years and we’re already seeing it starting up again,” senior constable Sean Drader says.
“In recent times these incidents have been getting more serious as people now tend to take expensive personal electrical items with them on a night out.
“It’s not just the cost of replacing these things that is distressing for victims – losing the likes of mobile phones,
cameras and iPods can ruin people’s holidays.”
Some of the thieves work in groups and home in on people who have had quite a bit to drink, Drader explains.
“The sorts of characters who do this kind of thing tend to be out of work or in very low paid jobs and are out there actively looking for vulnerable targets.
“They’re usually not really interested in the coats or bags – they tend to only want what’s in them, something that can generate quick and easy cash.”
Drader recommends revellers put their belongings in a cloakroom if available. If not, keep a closer eye on possessions and leave expensive items at home.
“A lot of people go into bars and stick their coats and bags behind their seats, thinking this is a precaution against theft,” Drader observes.
“Trouble is, as soon as they come through the door the villains will be watching their every move.
“And they’ll swoop as soon as they think that no one is looking,” Drader says.
Thug sent packing
A 30-year-old Queenstowner who went berserk at a resort hostel in the early hours of last Sunday is facing a raft of charges.
Officers were called to the Southern Laughter backpackers at 4.20am after the man – a maintenance worker staying at the hostel – lost the plot.
“When police arrived the man was abusive, spitting, kicking out at people and allegedly threatened to kill the officers as well as fellow guests,” Drader says.
The man was remanded in custody and has been charged with disorderly behaviour, common assault, assaulting police, threatening to kill, resisting arrest and speaking threateningly.
When a Swiss man, 22, was arrested outside World Bar for punching another male, cops discovered he was carrying a blade.
“He came to the attention of police when he tried to punch a patrol car after the alleged assault,” Drader comments.
“When he was searched he was found to have a knife on him.”
The offender was given diversion after being charged with disorderly behaviour, assault and possession of a knife.
The incident happened at 1am last Thursday.