Thousands stolen in break-in

Thrive Alexandra owner Gagan Sharma outside his store, which was broken into on Saturday night...
Thrive Alexandra owner Gagan Sharma outside his store, which was broken into on Saturday night and between $12,000 and $13,000 in cash taken. PHOTO: TRACIE BARRETT
Police are investigating a break-in and theft of a safe containing a large sum of money from an Alexandra business at the weekend and the possibility it may be related to an earlier break-in at the owner’s home.

Thrive Alexandra owner Gagan Sharma said police contacted him about 8am on Sunday to inform him there appeared to be a break-in at his shop in Tarbert St.

On arriving at the premises, Mr Sharma discovered the till had been emptied of cash and a small, free-standing safe had been removed, with between $12,000 and $13,000 taken.

The specialty grocery store is also an agent for Western Union and processes a lot of money transfers for seasonal workers sending funds to their home countries.

The store recommended the workers use cards rather than cash when sending money home but new workers were unaware so brought in cash withdrawn from a nearby ATM, he said.

He had been unable to bank the money until Monday and would usually have taken it home but stopped doing that after a break-in at his home last month, as Mr Sharma, his wife, Priyanka, and their young children were sleeping.

During that break-in, his wife’s handbag was taken and later found by fishermen, weighted down with stones in the river where the Manuherikia River runs into the Clutha River.

Mrs Sharma’s ID and cards were left in the bag but a cash purse containing about $4500 was taken.

‘‘The normal practice was to close the shop and take all the money to our house and go to the bank the next morning it was open,’’ Mr Sharma said.

‘‘We stopped that after the burglary [at our home].’’

His insurance company yesterday did not say how much of the loss, if any, would be covered.

Central Otago Senior Sergeant Clint Wright said the break-in at the shop was discovered at 6am on Sunday and police were investigating.

‘‘We are not discounting a targeted attack,’’ he said.

- By Tracie Barrett


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