Burglar struck while police were on tsunami alert

June 20, 2017 | By More

Burglar Michael Taui Wetere sprang into action in the hour after the Kaikoura earthquake while police were busy doing tsunami evacuations in Christchurch’s eastern suburbs.

While the police were busy in the coastal suburbs early on November 14, 35-year-old Wetere did three burglaries on the other side of town.

The unemployed Woolston man admitted 11 charges at the Christchurch District Court today: eight burglaries, receiving stolen property, possession of tools for committing burglaries, and unlawfully taking a car that was used in some of the burglaries.

The police and Crown then released summaries of facts which show that even an inept burglar like Wetere can clock up losses and damage totalling $61,490 for Christchurch householders and businesses.

His career shortcomings include:

[] Injuring himself at two burglary scenes and leaving blood spots that the police then analysed and got his DNA.

[] Throwing away a cigarette packet with his fingerprints on it at another burglary scene.

[] Leaving his fingerprints behind at two other break-ins.

Wetere has been in custody since he was picked up in early February, the day after the burglary of a dairy on Yaldhurst Road. He was found with stolen property including World War 2 soldier’s dogtags taken in a December burglary in Avonhead.

He was also found with walkie-talkie radios, a face mask, a pair of black gloves, and a jemmy bar.

Judge Peter Rollo today remanded him in custody again for sentencing on August 8. He asked for a pre-sentence report, and a reparation report on the losses, and referred the case for a possible restorative justice meeting with the victims.

Judge Rollo accepted defence counsel Margaret Smyth’s request not to record convictions yet, so that Wetere will not be shifted to another prison wing straight away. That would put an end to his studies for NCEA, an alcohol and drug course, and driving classes.

The Crown said Wetere’s blood was found on a curtain next to a window where a burglar broke into a house in Sails Street, Papanui, in October 1, 2015. Property worth $30,160 was taken.

On October 18, 2015, a house in Hoani Street, Papanui, was burgled when the back door was smashed open. Property worth $15,941 was taken, but Wetere left behind a cigarette packet with his fingerprints on it.

A Subaru station wagon was taken from a home in Bishopdale on the evening of November 13, 2016 – just hours before the Kaikoura earthquake which struck at 12.03am on November 14.

Seven minutes after the quake, the station wagon was used by two offenders who broke into a dairy in Waltham. The were disturbed by security guards at Lancaster Park nearby, and ran off and got into the vehicle. The guard got the registration number. One of the burglars dropped a till and cigarettes as they fled.

At 12.50am, burglars broke into a service station on Port Hills Road and began breaking into the cigarettes cabinet. They had to flee empty handed when a security smoke cannon filled the shop with smoke, stopping them seeing anything. The same car was seen there.

At 1am, the doors of a dairy in Huntsbury were kicked in and two burglars took cigarettes and tobacco worth $7000. Wetere’s fingerprints were found on a drawer inside the cigarette cabinet.

A house in Merivale was burgled in December or early January, and Wetere’s fingerprints were found on a roof flashing, from when he climbed onto the balcony.

He left more blood spots on the cigarette cabinet at the scene of a dairy break-in at Bryndwr on the night of January 6 to 7, 2017.

Wetere originally denied the charges, but changed his pleas to guilty at a case review hearing today.

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Category: Focus

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