Wednesday, 11 November 2009 - 12:52pm |

Stolen cheese thought to have come from a train

2 min read

Police believe that large blocks of cheese recovered after reports of people acting suspiciously near Halcombe have been stolen from a container on a train en route to Auckland.

The incident began when a rail worker on his way to work shortly after 7am this morning spotted people running back and forth across the rail line and loading boxes into a vehicle in an area known as Kakariki.

When he approached them they made off in their vehicle and the rail worker contacted police and continued to follow the vehicle and its four occupants. Boxes were thrown from the suspect vehicle as it was driving along then the rail worker lost sight of the car.

About 10 minutes later a car fitting the description was spotted by police and stopped in Sanson. At this point there were only two people in the vehicle.

Police have so far recovered 8 boxes containing 20 kilo blocks of vacuum packed cheddar cheese. The information on the boxes suggests it is exported cheese that should have been on a container on a train heading north. That train has now arrived in Auckland and the relevant container is being isolated for police to carry out further investigation.

No train was seen by the rail worker and the train would have gone through the Halcombe, Kakariki and Marton areas around 1am.

A train would need to be stationary to off-load such a large number of boxes and bolt cutters would be needed to gain entry to the container. Trains will stop for anything up to 20 minutes in the event it has to manoeuvre round a second train on the same line.

Constable John Green said: "The fact that the boxes were seen being loaded some six hours after the train would have passed through the area suggests that the cheese may have been moved or stashed for later collection. Staff at Kiwi Rail are being of great help to us in establishing the exact movements of the train and where it might have stopped long enough for the theft to occur.

"This offence is further reaching that just those boxes that have been recovered. If the container has been tampered there will be MAF issues to consider that will affect the onward travel of the container and have significant implications for the exporter."

A 21-year-old man and a 23-year-old woman are currently helping police with their enquiries.

Anyone who has any information about this theft, saw suspicious activity around a stationary train, or finds any boxes of cheese along that stretch of rail line is asked to contact Feilding Police on 06 323 6363.

Media enquiries should be referred to Communications Manager Kim Perks on 06 351 2546 or 027 234 8256.