10 Jan 2017

Farmer offers amnesty over milk shed theft

6:31 pm on 10 January 2017

A Nelson dairy farmer whose milk vending machine was robbed is urging the thieves to come forward.

Father and son Warwick and Luke King in the shed of their north Nelson dairy farm.

Warwick and Luke King say security cameras recorded cash being taken from the vending machine in their shed. Photo: RNZ / Tracy Neal

Warwick and Luke King, who own Ratabank Farm in north Nelson, said security cameras in the farm's shed recorded the theft of about $200 in the early hours of Sunday morning.

The father and son have used social media to call on those responsible to own up to the theft and work off the cost of the damage to the machine.

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Photo: RNZ / Tracy Neal

Warwick King said the offenders turned up about 2.20am on Sunday.

"They'd obviously cased the joint beforehand because he came in wearing a hoodie and with his head lowered. He was concealing what looked like a crowbar and then tried to cover up a second camera in the milking room, which was unsuccessful because we got some profile pictures of him."

Mr King said the man was filmed ripping open the door of the vending machine and taking the cash, but the theft was not discovered until about 7.30am, when the family started milking.

Luke King said, if the offender or offenders did not own up by Tuesday afternoon, it would become a police matter and the video would be handed over.

"We contacted the police straight away, and then I decided to use social media as a format to reach out and offer the opportunity for someone to come in and front up."

He wanted to give the thieves a chance to own up and make a difference in their life, he said.

"For a bit over 200 and something dollars, to drive all the way out here and to come and break into a milk vending machine, is either desperate or something's wrong.

"So if that person needs help... reach out, we'll give you an opportunity to come and work it off, maybe be able to teach somebody some extra skills."

Warwick King said they called police on Sunday morning but by Tuesday morning officers had not yet been out to the site.

Mr King said it was possible it was considered a low priority, and the chances of finding decent fingerprints were slim because of the number of people who would have handled the vending machine over the weekend.

"They asked me to preserve the scene and I said, 'Well, it's a business and we'll have customers coming in every day.' So basically, where we think he may have touched, we've covered.

"There's a big notice to all customers to try and avoid touching where the paper and stuff is."

He said the family, which had farmed in the area for more than 40 years, had downsized and was developing the farm into a boutique enterprise including a cafe and riding school, and a place where people could visit to see cows being milked.

Mr King said if the offender came forward and took up the offer, he would be asked to help on the farm and with building the boutique farm's new business venture.

The notice on the farm's vending machine.

The notice to customers on the farm's vending machine after the theft. Photo: RNZ / Tracy Neal

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