INDEPENDENT NEWS

Waikato Dog Thieves No Surprise To NZSOA

Published: Fri 4 Nov 2005 09:23 AM
Waikato Dog Thieves No Surprise To NZSOA
The New Zealand Security Officers Association is not surprised that a gang of people have been able to masquerade as dog control officers, which has resulted in the theft of a number of pets in the Waikato region.
A spokesperson for the NZSOA said today, “Many people do not know their rights and responsibilities when dealing with enforcement officers who are empowered by local government. If people don’t know what to expect when dealing with council enforcement staff, it is inevitable that gangs of people such as the bogus dog control officers will be given free reign to operate.”
The Waikato Times recently reported that a gang of thieves had been stealing pets from residents while posing as dog control officers. There are believed to be using a white van and have been telling people that they are operating under the authority of the local council.
Council staff claim that dog control staff from each council wore uniforms and drove clearly marked vehicles. They also claimed that when pets are taken, seizure notices are left and that all staff wear name tags and carry photo identification cards.
Despite council claims, the NZSOA believe that there is confusion among the public regarding the role of council enforcement officers, citing the foolhardy actions of two noise control officers operating under the same legislation as dog control officers. In both these instances, the officers attending noise control complaints refused to produce identification to the members of the public they were dealing with.
In one of these cases, the refusal to produce such identification ended in the police shooting of a man in South Auckland.
Michael Ali'imatafitafi was shot three times by police last year after threatening them with a machete following a complaint of excessive noise. Michael Ali'imatafitafi's lawyer blamed the incident on a succession of bungles by police and the city council.
It is alleged that the noise control officer refused to produce a warrant of enforcement when Ali'imatafitafi’s father asked him to do so. Authority under noise control legislation emanates from a warrant of enforcement. The refusal of the noise control officer to produce this warrant nullified his authority to enforce noise control legislation.
In a similar incident that fortunately did not end in violence, Christchurch resident Andre Kaal was forced to hand over a New Zealand flag which had allegedly caused excess noise when the ropes attached to the flag were beating against the flagpole.
The noise control officer refused to show identification and Kaal, a former police officer and private investigator, said he would not remove the flag until he knew the identity of the noise control officer and the authority he was acting under. The noise control officer retreated to his car outside Kaal's home and called in the police.
A spokesperson for the NZSOA said, “It is crucial that local councils outline the rights and responsibilities of both the public and enforcement officers alike. This will help eliminate some of the confusion that is being experienced out there”.

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