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Alarming: Thieves push Mitre 10 Mega owner's buttons, take full trolley

Author
Anne Gibson,
Publish Date
Wed, 24 Jan 2024, 2:38pm
Thieves activated a fire alarm to divert attention in the daring robbery at the Westgate store.
Thieves activated a fire alarm to divert attention in the daring robbery at the Westgate store.

Alarming: Thieves push Mitre 10 Mega owner's buttons, take full trolley

Author
Anne Gibson,
Publish Date
Wed, 24 Jan 2024, 2:38pm

Two thieves allegedly stole from one of New Zealand’s largest Mitre 10 Mega stores on Sunday, using a method which has left the boss expressing shock.

Dave Hargreaves, owner-operator of Mitre 10 Mega stores at Westgate and Henderson, said the pair had stolen goods from one of his stores on the weekend.

“On Sunday afternoon, we had a fire evacuation in our Westgate Mitre 10 Mega. The team and customers did a great job evacuating and assembling in the carpark. The response from our local West Harbour fire station was amazing and the store was attended by two crews and fire tenders,” Hargreaves wrote on LinkedIn.

But the fire crew soon established it was a false alarm. One of the fire buttons in the store had been set off by a customer, Hargreaves said.

“Our security team quickly established that a couple working together set off the alarm and during the evacuation, walked out with a trolley of goods. In these situations, your first reaction is that everyone is safe and there was no fire,” he said.

Police said they are making enquiries following a report of theft on January 21.

“It’s understood two people have entered the premises, picked up several items, and have set off the fire alarm before exiting the address with those items.

“At this stage, police are following positive lines of enquiry to identify those involved and are reviewing available CCTV footage, which has been provided.”

Mitre 10 stores have been targeted by thieves recently. Photo / Peter de Graaf
Mitre 10 stores have been targeted by thieves recently. Photo / Peter de Graaf

But to discover it was caused to perpetrate a criminal act meant his emotions changed.

“I can get over the loss of product but one thing that we as a team are struggling with is the fact that if there was a genuine fire or emergency, then people’s safety could have seriously been compromised and lives put in danger due to two crews being at our store because of two people who have no consideration for others,” he said.

A spokeswoman for Mitre 10′s corporate headquarters said today: “A fire alarm was set off and it turned out to be cover for a shoplifting incident.”

Hargreaves is hopeful of arrests, saying vehicle registration and photos were provided to police.

On Monday, Hargreaves said he had learned of a similar incident at a local competitor store on Saturday: “Same impact with two fire engines out of action for 45 minutes. Recent well-publicised retail thefts have prompted swift action by the police. I live in hope that Sunday’s incident can be investigated with equal vigour”.

Inquiries have been made to Bunnings, asking if its Westgate store was robbed on Saturday. No response has been received yet.

Fire and Emergency’s log showed a callout on Sunday at Westgate and a callout on Saturday to the same area as well.

Both were listed as “false alarm, sprinkler”. Communications for that service said they didn’t deal with robberies and referred questions to police.

People on social media expressed support for Hargreaves, encouraging him to email Police Minister Mark Mitchell.

Some recommended writing to Police Minister Mark Mitchell after a robbery at Mitre 10. Photo / Mark Mitchell
Some recommended writing to Police Minister Mark Mitchell after a robbery at Mitre 10. Photo / Mark Mitchell

But Hargreaves said he had already emailed MP Cameron Brewer, telling him what happened. Brewer told the Herald Chris Penk was the MP for the area which includes Westgate.

“Appalling behaviour putting others at risk,” responded Peter Webster to Hargreaves. Webster is listed on LinkedIn as chief people officer at Rivieria Hardware Holdings which is New Zealand’s biggest Mitre 10 owner.

Rivieria owns Mitre 10 Mega Albany, Mitre 10 Mega New Lynn, Mitre 10 Mega Warkworth, Mitre 10 Whangaparāoa and the new $30m Mitre 10 Mega Silverdale, opened in August last year. It also includes Riviera Prenail, a frame and truss manufacturing plant. It also has five Columbus Coffee cafes, Riviera Imports and the Riviera Distribution Centre.

Mitre 10 Mega Westgate is recognised as one of New Zealand’s best hardware stores, winning the 2018 Hardware Journal large-format store of the year.

Mitre 10 Mega Henderson had been transformed since Hargreaves’ business bought it in 2018. It had been one of the worst-performing stores but is now one of the best.

In 2022, the Herald reported how a man and woman took turns to steal drill bits and saw blades from Mitre 10, only to return them the same day at the same store for refunds. They stole from the stores in Hamilton and Waihi.

In 2020, the Herald reported how 48 barbecues were stolen from Mitre 10 Mega Flat Bush, with police saying the offenders may have used a truck to make numerous visits to the store overnight.

That year also, the Herald reported how an alleged opportunistic thief took advantage of a Mitre 10 Mega Westgate health and safety drill after doing a runner with a number of items during a routine fire drill.

Questions about Sunday’s events were put to Hargreaves yesterday but no response has been received, nor from the police.

Anne Gibson has been the Herald’s property editor for 23 years, has won many awards, written books and covered property extensively here and overseas.

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