Wednesday, February 28, 2024

Theft of 31 tsunami siren putting lives at risk

Auckland Emergency Management (AEM) has slammed the ongoing theft of the region’s tsunami sirens, saying lives are being put at risk as a result of the criminal behaviour.

Over the last six months, 31 siren units across 13 sites – 22 siren units from West Coast site and nine from the East Coast – have been stolen.

Sirens at Huia, Whatipu, Karekare, Piha and Te Henga (on Auckland’s west coast) have been subjected to ongoing vandalism, with sirens vandalised and removed.

AEM’s Head of Capability and Public Awareness Adam Maggs says the actions of vandals stealing the sirens puts lives at risk and comes at a significant cost to ratepayers.

“This is not a new issue,” says Adam, referring to number of sirens that went missing earlier in the year. “However in recent weeks this unacceptable behaviour has escalated, affecting a significant number of sites along the west coast.

“These sirens are specifically designed for alerting and are of no use for any other purpose, including playing music, making this a malicious and wasteful act of vandalism.

“They are also not an ‘off-the-shelf’ product, which means they cannot simply be replaced,” he says.

AEM is currently looking into replacement options but says it has to consider sourcing products offshore, international shipping requirements and the long-term sustainability of a product prone to vandalism.

“The loss of sirens means that the audible warnings for a tsunami threat at these locations may not be functioning at full capacity or as you might expect – for example, some areas may have fewer operating sirens,” said Mr Maggs.

“But sirens are only one way to be informed of the threat of a tsunami. Warnings will be sent by Emergency Mobile Alert (messages to your mobile phone), broadcast on radio and television or via the news media, and social media platforms.

“And of course, if you are at the coast and feel an earthquake which is long or strong, move inland or to higher ground immediately,” he said.

To find out more about tsunami, warnings and other hazards, or to check if you live in a tsunami evacuation zone in Auckland’s Hazards Viewer, visit AEM online at aucklandemergencymanagement.org.nz

What to do if you notice a missing or damaged tsunami siren

If you observe anyone tampering with sirens, please contact the Police immediately.

If you notice damaged or missing tsunami sirens, call us on 09 301 0101 or report it via Auckland Council’s report a problem tool.

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