Waikaia arson possibly linked to thefts

The house severely damaged by a suspicious fire in Waikaia. PHOTO: SANDY EGGLESTON
The house severely damaged by a suspicious fire in Waikaia. PHOTO: SANDY EGGLESTON
Police say a suspicious house fire in the Southland township of Waikaia may be linked to previous thefts from the property.

A police statement today said one of two vehicles they had been seeking following the February 21 arson in Elswick St had been identified.

Police had earlier called for information from anyone who had seen a red vehicle, or a dark-coloured twin-cab ute towing a trailer in the area at the time.

The fire was possibly linked to previous offending, the statement said. It was believed a weed eater and chainsaws were stolen from the property prior to the arson.

"Police have now been made aware of similar dishonesty offending in the Waikaia township, where similar items were stolen, and police are investigating the potential link between these previous dishonesty offences and the arson."

They had ruled out any involvement in arson or dishonesty offending by the ute driver.

However, work was continuing to identify the driver of the red vehicle seen in the Waikaia-Riversdale Rd area around the time of the arson, and police would like to speak to them.

The fire was attended by the Waikaia, Balfour and Riversdale Volunteer Fire Brigades.

Waikaia Station Officer Ray Dickson said when the fire siren went off at 12.04am on Wednesday, February 21 he looked out his window and saw the house.

"It was well alight then."

The brigade members managed to save a Land Rover in a lean-to beside the garage but there was not much left of the house and garage.

Police today said they wanted to hear from anyone who was victim to burglaries of similar equipment, or who may have information about suspicious activity, that had not yet been reported.

They also sought any dashcam footage from the Waikaia-Riversdale Rd area between 12am and 2am on Wednesday, February 21.

 - Police 105 or online via https://www.police.govt.nz/use-105 using “Update Report” and the reference number: 240222/8704.