Not enough done to deter vandals: retailer

Diana Struthers examines the remains of a stained-glass door she believes was smashed by vandals...
Diana Struthers examines the remains of a stained-glass door she believes was smashed by vandals this week. Photo by Jane Dawber.
Vandalism in Dunedin's main shopping street is getting worse and something needs to be done about it, says an angry shop manager whose front door was smashed.

Diana Struthers, from The Dolls House Dance Shop, said the "unique and beautiful" full-length stained-glass door of the George St store was smashed on Tuesday night or Wednesday morning.

About 10 days ago, she had to remove the store's sign after it was half pulled down.

Vandalism had been occurring in George St for years and shopkeepers were prepared to put up with a lot, but not their doors and windows being smashed. And the situation was getting worse, she said.

"This is the main street of a major city and I don't think enough is done to prevent vandalism on it."

She wondered if it might not happen so much if more police were walking the streets, but Dunedin area police commander Inspector Dave Campbell said police had to prioritise their staff to jobs where people's direct personal safety was at risk.

Vandalism, nevertheless, was a big problem in Dunedin, he said.

Nearly 20% of all reported crime was wilful damage and Dunedin's figures were higher than in other parts of the country, although he was confident that was because Dunedin people were better at reporting it to police.

Dealing with wilful damage was a difficult issue because police could not be everywhere and protecting people's personal safety had to take precedence.

While an upcoming restructure of Dunedin's police would see more officers rostered on at weekends, that did not necessarily mean there would be more foot patrols in that part of George St, and vandalism was "fairly low down the list of priorities".

"What might be significant [to some people] might not be significant in the bigger scheme of things."

People should continue to report damage, so police could analyse properly where the problems lay. Police were assigned to tasks on the basis of constant analysis of crime reports, he said.

Dunedin City Council customer advocate Adrian Blair said two extra city safety officers were rostered on about six weeks ago specifically to walk the length of George St on Saturday nights, as the street had become busier.

However, because of limited funding, city safety officers were due to stop for three months.

Other things, in terms of environmental engineering, could be done to discourage vandalism, and he had worked with retailers on similar issues in the past.

He was always happy to sit down with retailers and discuss their concerns, he said.



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