Hastings retailers say they work in fear with large groups of
delinquent youths taking control of the CBD with rampant
shoplifting, intimidation tactics and drug dealing.
A local shop owner said the city's streets are being
"terrorised" by "prospect kids", as authorities run the risk
of crime becoming uncontrollable.
"These prospect kids are running the town, I don't know why
they don't have an election," he said.
"It's absolutely disgusting, they are terrorising the
streets. The shoplifting is chronic, and the mayoral
candidates seem to be losing track of what's going on in this
The man, who declined to be named, said he had been in local
retail for more than 30 years and has had his window smashed
by a thrown brick, but has never seen Hastings inner city "so
"Without a doubt it has affected retail business, it is a bad
image for Hastings - clients are now too scared to come into
the CBD, as these guys are a real threat.
"Police don't seem to have any presence in the inner city
The latest incident involved a brawl on Heretaunga St West
between two groups of youths, just prior to the Blossom
Parade on Saturday.
A local hairdresser said she saw the street brawl erupt which
left an elderly man bloodied and beaten.
"I came out of the barbers and there were two groups of kids
fighting in the street, there was lots of foul mouth
"Somewhere in the middle a man in his 60s got caught among
it. I saw the man getting beaten up - there was blood coming
out of his mouth and the side of his face was bleeding."
The groups scrambled when police arrived, she said.
The local shop keeper also recalled the Saturday tussle: "My
employee tells me kids lining up for the blossom parade were
crying after seeing it, there was blood everywhere, a real
A central Hastings shopkeeper, who asked to remain anonymous,
said she spoke on behalf of a number of businesses by saying
retailers were fed up and fearful of leaving their workplace
in the evening.
"We are sick and tired of these kids scaring us, coming into
our shops, shoplifting, intimidating us," she said.
"Staff are scared to go to their cars after work and there is
drug dealing going on in the middle of Hastings."
It was hard enough in tough economic times to make a living
without the added stress and fear of unruly youths, she said.
"It would be nice to have our town back... People just don't
feel safe anymore."
Hastings mayor Lawrence Yule said a number of shopkeepers had
raised the issue with him, especially during school holidays,
and asked for more security.
"I think we are going to have to intervene, though, with
youths basically loitering and acting intimidating in the
CBD, it is damaging for retailers," Mr Yule said.
"I am keen for the people to take the CBD back from the small
number of people intimidating everyone else."
Inspector Andrew Sloan said statistically there had been no
increase in reported thefts or shoplifting in the city
centre, however, as summer approached police did expect an
"We haven't seen any new trends develop."
He said that, as a community, the people of Hastings should
not have to put up with any criminal or intimidating
behaviour in their CBD."
He said resources to prevent CBD problems were in place, such
as police, community and council patrols, but people should
not hesitate to call police or phone crimestoppers
- By Sam Hurley of Hawke's Bay Today