24 Sep 2015

Chch to vote on cleaning up 'squeegee bandits'

9:54 am on 24 September 2015

Christchurch City Council will soon vote on whether to ban window washers at busy intersections.

Motorists have complained that there has been intimidation from mostly teenage "squeegee bandits", including assaults and damage to cars.

Jarryd Ford-Manson

Jarryd Ford-Manson Photo: RNZ / Conan Young

One of the most popular intersections for the window washers is at the Eastgate Shopping Centre in the suburb of Linwood.

The owner of Your Shout homebrew supplies store, Jarryd Ford-Manson, said one of the worst incidents was when a motorist accidentally bumped into a window washer who was sitting on his bicycle.

"The person in the car had sort of gotten out to see what the problem was....and next thing somebody had thrown this road cone right into their passenger window. No real reason for it, just plain intimidating behaviour."

Mr Ford-Manson said the teenagers were bad for business.

"They'd all hang around on the corner and just hassle the customers as they came around, asking them for smokes and money....and just being generally intimidating."

However he was reluctant to tell them to move on.

"Best not to make waves with them as well because once you start getting crappy with them then you end up getting your windows broken and you can see the scratches on the window as well from some of them."

Dairy owner Ryan Hu said he once had to call the police.

"One time four or five young guys ... come here just eating and eating and I say stop eating, you need to pay." He called police, and said they then charged the boy.

Local pawn shop owner Shane Lilley said his customers also felt intimidated and he could not see why it had taken so long for the council and police to take action.

Shane Lilley

Shane Lilley Photo: RNZ / Conan Young

"It's dangerous. Just for the safety aspect, it shouldn't have happened and it shouldn't have been allowed to happen for so long, it should have been nipped in the bud right from the start."

None of the business owners reported seeing any of the window washers for the past two months and Radio New Zealand failed to find any of them at other intersections around the city.

However constable Soames Crowther, who has pushed for a council crackdown on behalf of police, said the start of daylight saving this weekend would see them return.

He said some attacks on motorists had been particularly nasty.

Ryan Hu

Ryan Hu Photo: RNZ / Conan Young

"A person was asked [whether he wanted to have his window washed] and when he refused it there's been a bit of backchat which has resulted in the person having their rear window smashed as he's driven away.

"We have heard of one other incident there where a guy's had his car damaged and when he's got out, half a dozen have run from everywhere and assaulted the victim."

The council will next month vote on whether to give police the power to enforce an existing bylaw prohibiting window washing for financial gain.

If passed, the change would see window washers charged and fined a maximum of $20,000.

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