Theft of wireless internet equipment for the coastal settlement of Taranaki from the bottom of the community hall

A picture of the broadband router and spare batteries stolen from Oaonui Hall at the weekend.

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A picture of the broadband router and spare batteries stolen from Oaonui Hall at the weekend.

Thieves who stole $5,000 worth of wireless internet equipment from the coastal settlement of Taranaki not only stole from the company that owns it but the community as well.

The batteries, network routers, and power charger for the wireless transmission system, owned by Primo Wireless, were taken at 12.25 a.m. from the bottom of Oaonui Hall, six kilometers north of Ōpunake.

The theft left the hall without its free Wi-Fi hotspot and cut links to about 13 people locally on Primo’s broadband network.

In an emailed statement, Oaonui Hall Commission Chairman Andy Whitehead said the theft was a serious matter because it provided a valuable service to the area.

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“The worst thing is that they steal from society,” he said.

“Primo’s wireless network is a vital link for a number of people here.”

Andrew Gernhofer, Primo’s head of construction and maintenance, said the equipment was worth at least $5,000 but was worth almost nothing to the thieves.

Cables that were cut under the hall at 12.25 a thief on Sunday.

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Cables that were cut under the hall at 12.25 a thief on Sunday.

He said they may have been targeting rechargeable batteries, which are used to provide backup power in the event of a power outage.

But this scrap is only worth about $40.

“And not many people use 24 or 48 volt systems, which is what they were designed for.”

He said it would have taken at least two people to take the gear as it weighs between 70 and 80kg.

Gernhofer and his team put the site back up by Sunday night, and on Monday morning, customers were reconnected.

The wi-fi has been put back in place, with the equipment now inside the hall.

If anyone sees the distinctive green batteries, they can call the police or call the Primo Help Desk at 0800123774.

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