Building a picture of ski field arsonists

Building a picture of ski field arsonists

National News

Detectives investigating the arson attacks on the Ruapehu ski field at the weekend have spent the week collecting a wealth of evidence from the scene.

For operational reasons the detailed nature of that evidence will not be disclosed at this stage, but officers are hopeful that it will assist them in closing in on those who started the fires. Some items are suitable for forensic testing which may help uncover their identities.

Once all of the evidence is collated the NZ Police Profiling Unit will assist in building a picture of the offender or offenders.

What continues to become clear is the extent to which they appear to have had extensive knowledge of the area and the buildings. They were determined and organised in the way they went about starting the fires.

Police also believe that there will be people out there who know who was behind the fires and may be shielding them, or not confident enough to come forward.

Detective Scott Ivimey said: "The people who started these fires would have had to somehow get off the mountain afterwards. It is also a well known fact arsonists gain satisfaction from watching their work so they would have been in the area for some time after the fires were started. Even if they haven't chosen to tell anyone about what they have done, their demeanour is likely to have been different from normal, and they would probably have been covered in dirt and smelling of fire smoke for some time after the event".

Police have had a lot of co-operation locally and a good response to appeals for people on the mountain that Friday to make contact.

Detective Ivimey said: "The community and even tourists are outraged by what has happened and there is a real determination to assist us in any way they can to track down those responsible. I am confident that support will pay dividends and we will hold someone to account."

The appeal for assistance continues and anyone who was in the area who hasn't yet spoken to police is asked to make contact.

All information received by police will be treated as confidential. Please contact your nearest police station or the Taumarunui Police Station on 07 895 8119.

Media enquiries should be referred to Inspector Steve Mastrovich Communications on 0272 417121.