24 Jun 2013

Police follow up tips over attacks on elderly women

10:23 am on 24 June 2013

Police say they are following up several tips about a man they believe is connected to a series of robberies and attacks on elderly women in Auckland.

On Sunday police named William Murphy, 36, also known as Wiremu Ruapapera, who they said was seen at a Pt Chevalier ASB branch using a bank card taken from a woman who was bound and robbed last week.

Police say William Murphy used a bank card linked to one of the robberies.

Police say William Murphy used a bank card linked to one of the robberies. Photo: NZ POLICE

The robbery was one of eight attacks on elderly people across Auckland since 17 June.

Police say the victims were aged from 69 to 97 and the attacks took place in Remuera, Orewa, Takapuna, Northcote, Herne Bay, Westmere and Pakuranga. In five of the eight incidents the attacker claimed to be a police officer.

In the latest, on Saturday night, police say a man forced his way into a 74-year-old woman's Pakuranga home after claiming to offer advice about security, and stole bank cards and cash.

The woman's daughter, Sylvie van de Geer, says her mother was thrown into furniture, tied up and beaten, and thought she was going to die.

"To see her, and the mess that this person has made of her, it's just absolutely disgusting, and I just want this person found and for no-one else to have to go through what my mother went through."

Neighbour Patricia Sawers heard the elderly woman screaming and found her standing in her doorway with wrists tied together and covered in blood after the attack.

She told Radio New Zealand's Morning Report programme other residents in the retirement block are terrified after the attack.

The victim lived in a housing complex for the elderly managed by the Auckland Council. A spokesperson says the council will be contacting all 1400 residents in its 66 complexes to remind them not to open the door to strangers.

Police investigation

Detective Inspector Karyn Malthus says it's not clear whether all eight offences were committed by the same person.

She says they named William Murphy because they're so concerned about how violent the attacks are becoming.

Detective Inspector Malthus told Morning Report police received several calls overnight on Sunday and the 20-strong team of officers working on the case are following them up.