20 Aug 2020

Man accused of stealing government laptop from managed isolation facility

2:13 pm on 20 August 2020

A man has been charged with burglary after allegedly breaking into a managed isolation facility in central Auckland and stealing a government laptop.

The Crown Plaza hotel in Auckland.

The Crowne Plaza hotel in Auckland. Photo: RNZ / Matthew Theunissen

The 32-year-old allegedly entered the reception area of Crowne Plaza on Albert Street by climbing over a barrier fence on 8 July and was confronted before fleeing.

The bag contained an Aviation Security (Avsec) laptop which a spokesperson for managed isolation and quarantine (MIQ) said was disabled shortly after it was taken.

"Neither the laptop nor bag contained private information of anyone staying in managed isolation facilities. The laptop belonged to an Avsec staff member. It was locked and password protected, and switched off when it was taken," the spokesperson said.

"The incident was reported to Avsec and the laptop was disabled. There are no indications the person has any access to information on the laptop."

*See all RNZ coverage of Covid-19

The spokesperson said the person was in the facility for a few minutes at the most and didn't come into contact with any returnee staying in in the hotel, nor did he have any contact with any luggage belonging to them.

The bag was returned to the hotel a week after it was allegedly stolen, with some personal items and work material missing.

Detective Senior Sergeant Greg Brand from the Auckland City police said the man was arrested in July and is next due to appear at the Auckland District Court in November.

"Given there is an active court matter underway police is unable to comment further," he said.

The MIQ spokesperson said security measures have been increased at all managed isolation facilities since this incident.

"Fencing has been enhanced so all fences are 1.8m high, and police now provide round-the-clock presence at all facilities. A timber-framed Perspex wall has been erected at the Crowne Plaza to prevent any possible access over the barrier fence," they said.

"In addition, security managers have been assigned to all managed isolation facilities and are responsible for site assessment, staff training, security oversight and coordination."

The spokesperson said the incident was determined to be of low risk to public health because the man didn't come into close or casual contact with any returnee or staff member and entered the hotel briefly, so relevant information wasn't released to the public earlier.

Get the RNZ app

for ad-free news and current affairs