Not a happy camper about caravan thefts

Campers around the Waitaki lakes who leave gear where it can be easily stolen - such as in insecure caravan awnings - will end up in Omarama constable Nayland Smith's black book.

They could also get a late-night phone call from him and, if they do nothing, their insurance company could also be told about it.

Since the start of the year, Const Smith has dealt with five burglaries from caravans.

Hundreds of caravans are left on lake sites from Lake Waitaki to Lakes Ohau and Middleton, including in popular reserves such as the Waitangi boat harbour on Lake Aviemore and Sailor's Cutting, or Falstone on the shore of Lake Benmore.

Isolated sites away from other campers are also popular.

Caravans and, in some cases tents, can be there from September or October through to April or May.

Two adults from Waimate had been arrested and charged with one burglary and four more were being investigated.

However, what upset Const Smith was how easily gear could be stolen from lakeside campsites.

Most of the caravans broken into had awnings attached, which hid offenders from view as they broke in. He suggested awnings should be taken down when people left camp sites.

He was disappointed with the amount of gear left in awnings, easy pickings for thieves.

"Take it home or put it in your caravan. You won't be covered by insurance if it is left insecure in an awning," he advised.

Const Smith does a lot of patrols around campsites and checks caravans.

"I'm going to start a 'little black book'; anyone who leaves property in an awning is going to get a call from me there and then," he said.

He would also take a note of the caravan and, if the problem persisted, notify insurance companies about that caravan.

Mr Smith was amazed by the gear left in awnings - water skis, biscuits, life jackets, wet suits, barbecues and bikes.

"It's not a matter of if, but when that gear is going to get pinched," he advised campers.

"I'm trying my hardest to stop it, but you guys have to help too by keeping things secure and out of site."

Const Nayland appealed for people around the lakes to be vigilant for any vehicles they thought did not belong, note the registration number, make and model if possible, along with a driver description, and let him know, so he could investigate.



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