Lamb to the slaughter

Simon and Jane Makgill’s son-in-law Steve Lee surveys the wreckage of the Makgills’ shed, which was demolished after vandals stole a digger from Pukekura subdivision on Sunday night.

We’ve been named New Zealand’s most beautiful town, but at least one person showed an ugly side on Sunday when they stole a digger from a construction site and used it to wreak havoc on Lamb St.

The bill from the destructive spree is expected to run into hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Residents said it appeared someone had broken into a digger parked at Pukekura subdivision, under construction on Lamb St, at about 11.30pm on Sunday and took it for a joyride around the site.  It is thought the thieves either hotwired the vehicle or used a screwdriver in the ignition barrel.

Next they apparently drove next door onto Simon and Jane Makgill’s property, where they gouged a large hole in the couple’s driveway with the digger’s bucket.

“They then drove over a wire fence and basically just took to our shed, where they obviously used the bucket to trash one side and then the other,” Mr Makgill said.

“Then they drove through a wooden fence onto Lamb St and crossed the road into another property, where they abandoned the digger and set fire to it.

“I just wonder what they thought they were doing.  It’s total vandalism.”

Lamb St landowner Paul Garland beside the digger stolen from a Lamb St subdivision site on Sunday night.

Jon Brewer, director of the Cambridge company that owns the digger, Camex Civil, said it appeared vandals had also broken into a shed on the subdivision looking for keys for the machines.

“But the machine keys were not on site, so they have then broken the machine windows,” he said.

Brewer said the digger’s cab was “completely burnt out” and the machine, worth about $300,000, was expected to be a write-off.

“That machine was specially set up with GPS equipment so it’s not a simple matter of replacing it,” he said.

“We’re going to do our best to place additional machinery in there… but it will definitely impact on our ability to get the job done on time.”

He said the police had “got some good fingerprints” and hoped “somebody might learn a lesson if they got caught”.

Paul Garland, whose fence was run over before the digger was burnt in his paddock, said Lamb St was “always getting ripped up by young hoons”.

“Over the last 20-odd years we would have had a dozen vehicles go through fences here, taking out power poles and all sorts,” he said.  “It’s something you’ve just got to live with really, and luckily nobody’s hurt, that’s probably the biggest thing.”

Cambridge resident Noel Passau, who runs his dog on Lamb St most mornings, agreed hoons were a big problem on Lamb St, especially on a grassy strip between Carlyle St and Maungatautari Rd he calls “the racetrack”.

“It’s amazing how many cars have run into trees and been smashed and now this incident with the digger – it’s disgusting what’s going on,” he said.  “I don’t know why they don’t put security cameras up and get a few number plates.”

The Police’s media team said officers had conducted a scene examination on Monday and they were were working with Fire and Emergency New Zealand to establish the circumstances.

Anyone with information should call Waikato Police on 105.

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