Boy racers deal another blow to Hawke's Bay community still reeling from Cyclone Gabrielle

A Hawke's Bay community still reeling from the aftermath of Cyclone Gabrielle says out-of-control crime is re-traumatising locals.

They came at night, with security camera footage supplied to Newshub showing the tyre smoke of more than 30 cars tearing up tarmac on Dartmoor Road.

Today, Michael Smith's picking up the pieces.

"That's what's left of the camera that was destroyed," said Smith, holding up a scratched and battered computer chip.

"Does look like a fair amount of damage considering that used to be all camera and now it's all wires."

Smith is the co-owner of Farmgate Security, and has become very familiar with Dartmoor Road. The main artery into Puketapu was hit hard by Cyclone Gabrielle.

The scars here are still clear to see, with mounds of slash and deserted orchards almost everywhere you look.

But the fresh scars left by boy racers on Friday night speak to a new calamity hitting the Hawke's Bay community - crime.

"Nothing's being done, and seeing the cameras destroyed like that just after a couple of weeks is pretty disappointing," said local Phil Blake.

The Puketapu Pub owner and community organiser Mary Danielson said "it's non-stop, there's always something going on".

In the immediate aftermath, outsiders went through damaged homes to loot what remained.

"Then it probably went a little quiet for a while but now it's just horrific again," said Danielson.

Security cameras were set up along the roadside to capture criminals in the act. They were built by Farmgate Security, and paid for by the Puketapu Cyclone Relief Fund, made up entirely of donations.

Now, just a week after installation, some have been smashed to bits by boy racers.

"They went to town, they created absolute chaos, blew out tyres, lot of alcohol use, and they smashed one of the community cameras that's just been installed," said Smith.

"They damaged the second camera as well."

To make matters worse Police were called during the two-hour boy racer session, but they didn't turn up.

In a statement to Newshub, Police said they "received a number of calls on Friday from around 10:30pm of illegal street racing activity" but "police staff were busy responding to other high-priority incidents and were not able to immediately attend".

They went on to acknowledge "this community is still feeling the effects of Cyclone Gabrielle, and that some roads are still not fully restored to their previous conditions, so any activity like this causes further distress".

Michael Smith said local Police are having a rough time.

"What we find with police in rural communities, obviously very understaffed out here."

"It is having an impact," agreed local Phil Bake. "Because of what this community has been through in the last year, there's been a lot of break-ins, a lot of theft. Just recently there were 10 sheep stolen from down the road here. So it's quite brazen."

Danielson's message to those responsible is simple.

"Just think before you do these things. I'm just very upset about this, and I just can't believe they'd come in and do it in a community that's gone through so much," he said.

"Not only ripping up the road and scaring people, but also destroying the cameras. I've just got no words."

No words for a community trying to cope with more damage than they bargained for.

Vehicles impounded 

In an update weeks later, police said they have since impounded two vehicles after reports of anti-social driving behaviours across Puketapu, Hastings.

"Police received enough information to conduct a range of enquiries in the following days, and have now impounded two vehicles for 28 days due to sustained loss of traction," a police spokesperson said on March 14.

"Hawkes Bay Police are continuing to follow lines of enquiry to locate the other vehicles participating in these anti-social driving behaviours."