Many will be disquieted by news reports of a "sheriff" and an armed, vigilante group patrolling Martinborough at night. Following an incident in which shots were fired, the Police ordered the vigilantes off the street.
I strongly support nighttime patrol groups - I have seen them in action in other Wairarapa towns and there is no doubt they help reduce burglaries and act as eyes and ears for the Police. These groups typically phone the Police if they see anything suspicious, but do not get involved.
It seems the group in Martinborough - fuelled no doubt by growing frustration at the apparent inability of the Police to stem the tide of burglaries - have decided to take the law into their own hands. Or maybe it is one or two hotheads within an otherwise sensible group.
The Police receive training in preventing confrontational situations arising. Self-appointed vigilantes, on a mission to rid the town of crime, do not have such training and the shots fired the other evening may well have been a manifestation of this.
Tanya Katterns reports today that the vigilante group is back on the streets, minus the two men involved in the confrontation the other evening, and that there are mixed feelings in Martinborough about the group.
Martinborough is not just wineries and elegant Wellingtonians sipping chardonnay and gracing kerbside tables. A few years ago I had to work at night fixing a database in Martinborough; gangs of young men wandering through the otherwise deserted town, looking for trouble, made me feel very uneasy.
The large number of unoccupied "weekender" houses in the town compounds the problem.
Maybe the South Wairarapa District Council - and local business people - could look at fitting CCTV cameras on all the roads leading out of Martinborough. Yes, there are a lot of roads out of Martinborough, but if every vehicle movement in and out of Martinborough was recorded it may stem the tide of burglaries and pay for itself in a few months. This has been done at other holiday resorts with success.