A 31-year-old Lower Hutt man has been arrested and charged by Wellington Police for receiving stolen All Blacks vs Lions test tickets. The tickets are believed to have been stolen from a letterbox at a Wellington residential address when they were delivered earlier in May.
Police say this is the first known case of ticket theft for the 2017 Lions series rugby tour. Police were made aware after a family member of the alleged offender attempted to sell the two tickets on TradeMe for $1000.
Detective Senior Sergeant Warwick McKee of Wellington CIB says, 'We've given a lot of people some prevention advice around security and safety of tickets particularly around delivery time. Throughout the tour reputationally New Zealand is going to be under the spotlight so police will do everything that they can to prevent crime and ensure that all visitors to our country have a safe and enjoyable experience while they are here.'
The Lions 2017 series comes under the Major Events Management Act (MEMA). According to the act, reselling or trading a ticket for a value greater than its original sale price is an offence, punishable by a fine of up to $5,000.
In a statement on their website dated 26 January 2017, TradeMe said "While there may be genuine reasons for the sale of tickets, given the difficulty of policing sales and in order to comply with the MEMA, we’ve decided not to allow the sale of any tickets to any British and Irish Lions matches, even when offered at face value or less. Any such tickets listed on Trade Me will be removed."
The victims have been reissued tickets and the man will appear before Wellington District Court on June 12. Police say they will have additional resources set in place to prevent similar crimes from occurring during the series.
‘We've got additional resources and staff on throughout the Lions tour and we will investigate any crimes related to any theft or any crimes at all in regards to the visitors to the country throughout the Lions series' says Detective Senior Sergeant McKee.
Tomorrow night the Lions kick off their first of 10 matches here in New Zealand, against NZ Provincial Barbarians at Whangarei's Toll Stadium.