Playcentre vandalised

Vandalism is increasing in the Clutha district — and police are encouraging local people to keep an eye out.

Balclutha Playcentre president Nicole Cunningham was ‘‘devastated’’ to find their playground equipment had been tagged with white spray paint last weekend.

‘‘We’re only a small centre, and we’ve been victim of vandals before.

‘‘To see it happen again is just frustrating, to say the least,’’ Miss Cunningham said.

The centre members were forced to clean it up quickly so the children could continue to use the area for play.

‘‘We had to clean it all ourselves, and we managed to do it with oven cleaner and whatever we had lying around.’’

‘‘We’re gutted.

‘‘It’s a massive kick in the stomach, and we hope the vandals can be identified so they don’t do it to anyone else.’’

Sergeant Chris Parsons and Senior Constable Rochelle Gordon, of Balclutha, said vandalism had increased in the previous six months.

‘‘We’ve found ever since the temporary public toilets were installed, vandalism has been hitting hard [throughout the district],’’ Snr Const Gordon said. The pair said schools in Milton, Waihola and recently the Balclutha bridge had been vandalised.

‘‘It’s something that’s becoming very damaging to the public,’’ Snr Const Gordon said.

‘‘At the moment we’re building a library and comparing tags to see if it’s the same offenders, but it seems there are multiple groups of various ages doing the vandalism.

‘‘There hasn’t just been tagging either; there’s also toilet and street signs being ripped out, too.

‘‘It all plays a part,’’ she said.

Sgt Parsons said the graffiti and damage was becoming costly for taxpayers and district ratepayers, who bore the costs of fixing it.

‘‘We’re encouraging the public to come forward with any information.

‘‘It should not continue, so if people recognise the tags or know someone doing the damage, get in contact with us.

‘‘We’re lucky there are a large amount of CCTV cameras around the district which have assisted us in the past, but we’ve still got to look out for the blind spots.

‘‘We’re pretty much 100% dependent on people’s accounts, so we appreciate people coming forward with information when they can,’’ Sgt Parsons said.