The Canterbury Employer’s Chamber of Commerce has called for change and improved police resources after an employee carried out a citizen’s arrest on Monday.
When Christchurch local Mike Creedy visited a motorcycle store that afternoon, he found four men chasing an alleged thief.
Creedy managed to bring down the offender, who was carrying an armload of goods, but after calling the police he was told to let the offender run along.
“We just stepped back and let him go and he took off down the street,” Creedy said.
Christchurch Metro Area Commander Superintendent Lane Todd told the Herald the decision was the result of police not being able to attend every callout “due to the nature of police work”.
Creedy managed to bring down the offender, who was carrying an armload of goods.
He said officers were called to several high-priority family harm events while this theft was occurring.
Chamber of Commerce chief executive, Leeann Watson said there was public empathy for police - acknowledging they do what they can with the resources they have available to them.
But she believes more instances of citizens stepping in to take action when police aren’t able to could increase with the current status quo.
“Even from the article, how might it have changed if [the offender] was of a threatening nature or had a weapon?” said Watson.
“It could have been something very different, but who says that doesn’t happen next time? If there are no consequences, people will continue to do this and things will progressively get worse.”
Watson said businesses face the same cost pressures as others in the community and many deal with “horrific losses” through theft.
Chamber of Commerce chief executive, Leeann Watson said there was public empathy for police.
She wants to see Government commit more police resources to Christchurch and see a strong police presence in the city, given the historical issue of antisocial behaviour in the CBD.
“What we’ve seen is a general concern in New Zealand communities saying ‘We’ve had enough’, they’re sick of sitting back and seeing little or no action,” she said.
“We need to see more police and make sure they have the right authority to do what’s needed to stop this sort of thing from happening in our community.”
The affected business owner, who asked the Herald not to name him or his business, believed the matter was an example of police not being bothered to respond.
“It’s hard enough as it is without people taking stuff. We were disappointed [with the police response],” he said.
“Where’s the protection for the people offended against? It’s poor. It appears the police can’t look after us.
“You’d assume someone would at least follow up today.”
Superintendent Todd said police had to prioritise cases where life or safety was at risk, and other calls at the time were more important.
“The advice from the Police emergency call-taker at the time to ‘let the offender go’, was to ensure the safety of the witnesses.”
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