NZ Local News

Burglar fleeced retailers of booze, smokes and cash; sold it from emergency housing for profit

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Burglars broke into Huntly’s Thirsty Liquor store in October 2021 and made off with a “large amount” of cash, tobacco, cigarettes and booze. Photo / Facebook

A prolific burglar targeted businesses for cash, booze and cigarettes before on-selling them from his emergency housing motel room.

Charles Wilson was making a substantial income for himself before he was arrested and put in custody, where he would later suffer a stroke.

Wilson at times carried out his crimes with Taonui Anderson and another accused and together they targeted businesses throughout Waikato in 2021 during various Covid-19 lockdowns.

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They would strike businesses around closing time or after they had closed.

Wilson and Anderson were two central figures, while a fourth accused, Joseph Kauhou, was charged in relation to one burglary.

But their spree would sputter to a halt in September 2021 after Wilson and Anderson decided to hit the Black Bull liquor store in Te Kūiti.

Wilson tried to rip off the padlock to the roller door before Anderson tried to wrench the door open. The pair, together with a third offender, ultimately gave up wrestling with the door and fled empty-handed.

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They ended up at the Caltex service station on Ohaupo Rd, Te Awamutu.

One used a crowbar to lever open an office window and then went inside to grab cash before unsuccessfully trying to disable the CCTV system.

A security guard turned up and scared the group off and they fled to Hamilton.

Wilson went into Mitre 10 The Base on September 13 and stole a pair of overalls valued at $25, then drove to a Grandview Heights, Hamilton home where he broke in through a back window that was left open for the family dog.

He fled with their television and home theatre system out through their French doors.

The next day, Wilson targeted Thirsty Liquor in Huntly around 1am. He and his co-offender parked nearby and got inside through the roller door before switching off the power and taking a large amount of tobacco, cash, and alcohol.

In November, Anderson stashed three packets of 1kg bacon down his pants in Hillcrest New World and walked out without paying for it, and was also involved in the break-in of a city vape store where they stole $18,000 in cash.

Kauhou and Wilson went to Silvester Electrical in Morrinsville on October 29. But they set off the sensor lights and when they were at the front door they were spotted by a neighbour. Police arrived shortly afterwards and caught them red-handed.

In the Hamilton District Court this week, Wilson’s counsel, Gerard Walsh, accepted there were “two burglaries of real concern”. His client did have a history of committing burglaries but not for a few years.

He’d also suffered a stroke while on remand for the burglaries.

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Judge Glen Marshall noted there was evidence of Wilson on-selling the stolen goods from his emergency motel accommodation in Hamilton.

Anderson’s counsel, Charles Bean, said his client had been “on a long journey” since first being arrested in December 2021.

After a slight hiccup a few months later, he had been down in Rotorua completing various courses, finishing at the top of his class in one.

“He’s very proud of where he’s at,” he said.

Judge Marshall said it was obvious none of them could pay reparation, and for Wilson, took into account his health.

“However, this was a commercial spree of burglaries that was generated almost as a business on your part to create substantial profits for you.”

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Kauhou’s part was “not as grim” and his involvement was more akin to an attempted burglary.

Wilson was jailed for three years and four months, while Kauhou was convicted and sentenced to 200 hours of community work.

Judge Marshall accepted Anderson’s extensive rehabilitative efforts and difficulties with his upbringing before sentencing him to six months of home detention.

Belinda Feek is an Open Justice reporter based in Waikato. She has worked at NZME for eight years and been a journalist for 19.

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