An Alexandra small business owner has experienced break-ins both at his shop and his home within weeks of each other and Central Otago police are investigating whether the two are related.
Thrive Alexandra owner Gagan Sharma said police contacted him about 8am on Sunday to inform him there appeared to have been a break-in at his store in Tarbert St on Saturday night.
On arriving at the premises, Mr Sharma discovered the till had been emptied of cash and a small free-standing safe had been removed, with between $12,000 and $13,000 taken.
His family home had been burgled on the night of December 27, while Mr Sharma, his wife Priyanka, and their young children were sleeping.
In that break-in, his wife’s handbag had been taken and was later found by fishermen weighted down with stones in the Clutha River at its intersection with the Manuherikia River.
Mrs Sharma’s ID and cards were in the bag but a purse containing about $4500 cash was taken.
The specialty grocery store is also an agent for Western Union and processes money transfers for seasonal workers sending funds to their home countries.
The store recommends the workers use cards rather than cash when sending money home, but new workers did not know that so brought in cash from a nearby ATM, he said.
He had been unable to bank the money as banks were closed over the weekend, and would usually have taken it home but ceased doing that after the break-in at his home.
“The normal practice was to close the shop and take all the money to our house and go to the bank the next morning it was open,” Mr Sharma said.
“We stopped that after the burglary [at our home].”
He met with his insurance representative yesterday and was given claim forms to fill out for both break-ins but did not know how much, if any, of the loss would be covered.
Central Otago senior sergeant Clint Wright said the break-in at the shop was discovered at 6am on Sunday and police were investigating.
“We are not discounting a targeted attack,” he said.
“There is a possibility this may be linked to an earlier break-in.”