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The Valley Project rooms in North Rd, North East Valley. PHOTO: GERARD O’BRIEN
The Valley Project rooms in North Rd, North East Valley. PHOTO: GERARD O’BRIEN
A spate of burglaries at a North East Valley community project has drawn attention to the "desperate" situation of some Dunedin community members.

Valley Project co-chairman Dr Rob Thomson said three break-ins had occurred as Christmas neared, forcing the community group to spend a lot of money on security upgrades.

He called the events "disappointing".

Access was gained by breaking windows, which had been a shock to staff.

Laptops were stolen, along with trail cameras used for predator control in the North East Valley area.

He said other burglaries had occurred in the area, and the incidents were likely to have been motivated by financial hardship.

"It’s been a hard two years for a lot of people."

A fourth break-in had occurred last weekend.

It was more minor, involving a backpack’s worth of food intended for the programme’s Kai Share initiative being taken.

Dr Thomson thought the food had been taken out of desperation, "as they only took what they needed".

It made him sad that people in the community felt they had no other options.

"If they had asked for help, we would have given it."

He hoped for a positive resolution, and his message for any perpetrators was to come and talk to the organisation.

He was not after any retribution and said the project would not seek prosecution or other forms of punishment.

There was no point in punishing those who were already desperate, as it would only make life more difficult for them, he said.

The Valley Project had been working hard to support those affected by lockdowns and Covid-19 restrictions, especially those with fewer resources who were especially vulnerable.

His hope was that anyone who was struggling would come and ask the project for help.

He called a Givealittle page organised by a former Valley Project volunteer in the wake of the break-ins "heartwarming", and said it showed people really cared about the community.

Josie Cairns, of Sydney, set up the fundraiser as a way to help out, despite no longer being able to volunteer her time for the Valley Project.

She had volunteered with the Valley Project when she was a geology student in Dunedin, and said her experience had been really positive.

She was aware the project was "having a bit of a hard time", as she stayed in touch through social media.

As of last night, the fundraiser had raised $470 of its $2000 goal.


Hard drug users will steal anything they think they can sell.
You can't rationalise their actions with a sane, sober, moral mentality.