While conducting foot patrols in Queensgate Mall, a woman making a hasty exit from the H&M store was brought to the attention of Te Awa Kairangi Hutt Valley Community Police.
When Police caught up with her they found her car was full of stolen property, including hundreds of dollars’ worth of make-up, clothing, hair straighteners and more. She had two warrants out for her arrest.
She was arrested; the stolen property and her vehicle seized. Retailers were delighted to get their goods back.
This story is one example of the early yields of a high-visibility police operation under way in Te Awa Kairangi for the summer - Operation Bunny.
Operation Bunny is a high-visibility foot patrol by Te Awa Kairangi Hutt Valley Police to prevent youth disorder and violence in the Lower Hutt CBD, particularly on and around Bunny Street.
The operation aims to ensure Bunny Street and nearby areas are places where all members of the Lower Hutt CBD community feel safe and are safe.
A dedicated Bunny Beat Team has been established to have a visible presence in Bunny Street, and the surrounding streets and parks, to deter youth from congregating and displaying anti-social and violent behaviours.
The Beat Team of five staff had their inaugural Bunny Beat shift on Thursday night, just in time for late night shopping. The interactions staff had with members of the public were generally positive, with many pleased to see Police out and about.
To complement the foot patrols around Bunny Street and Queensgate Mall, community staff have also set up the Mobile Police Base on Bunny Street.
"Over the summer period, there are more people about, so we want to ensure that we are highly visible and available over that busy time," says Inspector Dion Bennett, Area Commander Te Awa Kairangi Hutt Valley Police. "We are also working with our community partners on long-term solutions.”
High-visibility patrols are only one aspect of how Police and community leaders are working together to ensure the Lower Hutt CBD is a safe space for all members of the community.
Police is working with community partners (Hutt City Council, Greater Wellington Regional Council, Metlink and other support service providers) to change the culture and physical design of the environment.
As part of this, Te Awa Kairangi staff will also be supporting the kaupapa of events and spaces which create a safe environment for rangatahi, including participating in Summer Streetball events across the area, which begin in early January.
The Bunny Street operation will run until 1 February 2023. Bunny Beat patrols start in the early evening and run until the early hours of the morning.
While the Beat Team is on days off, Police staff from other groups will conduct foot patrols during the day to keep the increased visibility and momentum going.