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Mobile Unit Recovered, Returned To Hamilton

Media Release
Date: 2 November 2007

Mobile Unit Recovered, Returned To Hamilton

The Waikato District Health Board mobile dental unit stolen from near Paeroa last weekend has been towed back to Hamilton where it will be assessed next week.

School dental service manager Diane Pevreal inspected the unit in Rotorua yesterday (Thursday) where it was found by police on Wednesday following a tip off from the public.

"It is in good condition. One of the door locks has been wrecked, internal cabinets are fine and some hand pieces and other dental equipment have been recovered," she said.

Two specialised therapist operated chairs have also been found while two patient chairs and an x-ray unit are destroyed.

Still missing are the over-patient lights and the therapists' operating centre.

The estimate to re-fit the unit is about $150,000 - all but $1000 of that recoverable by insurance.

The people alleged to have taken the unit removed the sign writing but there does not appear to be any damage from this process, she said.

As a result of the incident Ms Pevreal said Waikato DHB would review security and signage on its other mobile units. Security would be upgraded and the use of a global positioning satellite investigated in each mobile unit operated by Waikato DHB.

Lockable tow bars have been put on all other units.

Ms Pevreal said she had secured the use of a single therapist mobile unit for the rest of the year to cover the Thames/Coromandel area but it would mean oral health treatment would fall behind.

The double towable mobile dental unit was allegedly stolen from Netherton School last Saturday. The unit was parked in front of the school grounds and visible from SH2, approx five kilometres from Paeroa.

The mobile has three axles in the middle and is nine metres long and two metres wide. It has an Electrolux air conditioning unit on the roof which proved helpful for police when they conducted an aerial search over Rotorua on Wednesday.

The unit is part of wider fleet of six mobile dental clinics treating children at 84 schools around the Waikato, Coromandel and Hauraki Plains region. The caravan was commissioned in 1999 and is one of three towable ones used in the Waikato DHB area which covers an eighth of the country.

Ms Pevreal thanked the police and the public for their work.

ENDS

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