East Coast MP Kiri Allan has called on criminals and looters targeting flood-stricken towns to “cut it out”.
Police have drafted 120 officers into the Eastern District from other parts of the country to support local staff.
Police Eastern District commander superintendent Jeanette Park said officers will be carrying out patrols night and day and added anyone “targeting people in a crisis is abhorrent”.
Allan, who is also the Justice Minister, told AM on Monday the Government isn’t currently looking at tougher measures for those caught taking advantage of the situation, but she’s hoping additional police resources will get on top of the issue.
“What we are looking at doing though is making sure we’ve got the surge support that’s required. When you’ve got communications down and police can’t communicate with police let alone the public, things do operate differently and we saw that for a bespoke period of time,” Allan told AM co-host Ryan Bridge.
“Here in Gisborne, what we are seeing is a lot more police on the ground in uniform, a real physical presence to be able to provide that assurance.
“That’s been the focus and I understand that some of those measures have been assisting the community to feel a lot safer.”
Tensions have been escalating in Hawke’s Bay as thieves and looters target vulnerable people. Items like nappies, generators and prized possessions have been stolen from flood-damaged homes.
Police confirmed 42 people had been arrested in Hawke’s Bay and 17 in Tairāwhiti since Tuesday.
There are also fears in the region that gangs such as the Mongrel Mob are taking advantage of the disaster.
“The vulnerable are now getting their stuff stolen. The gangs are coming in, or looters in general. They’re threatening people, stealing their stuff. We are very scared, people are very scared,” Napier local Grant Porter told Newshub.
Allan had a blunt but simple message for anyone taking advantage of vulnerable people.
“Get your act together, cut it out,” she said.
When asked if judges should impose tougher sentences for criminals caught offending during a state of national emergency, Allan said they’re required to undertake a full assessment of each case.
“In a situation like this, it’s an emergency environment, we’re asking people to act responsibly,” she said.
“Don’t do things like over-purchase items when we’re on a limited supply and treat each other with dignity and respect.”
Allan said police have had to take a hands-on approach to protect businesses and employees over the last few days.
“What I was really heartened to see were things like police physically drive the owners and operators of our Four Squares down to the bank to be able to deposit their money,” she said.
“That type of behaviour has been exceptional. For the people that have chosen to breach the social contract of treating others with respect in a time of crisis, look, they deserve the dues.”
Watch the full interview with Kiri Allan above.
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