A gang-linked barbershop firebombed in separate attacks – thought to be the work of gang rivals – was uninsured and has launched a fundraising campaign to repair the damage.
Emergency services were called to the fire at Bristol Barbers on Wainoni Rd, Christchurch, about 10pm on Sunday.
The shop was set alight for the first time about 3.30am on February 14.
About 45 minutes later, a stolen ute smashed into King of Ink in Linwood. Both businesses have links to international bikie gang the Mongols MC.
At least one of the barbershop attacks is believed to have involved Molotov cocktail-like devices.
The Mongols recently established a Canterbury chapter, which has more than half a dozen members and associates, and a headquarters in an old sawmill near Burnham.
The expansion of the gang, which first established itself in the Bay of Plenty last year, has created tension in Christchurch’s underworld.
Police are exploring whether the attacks on the tattoo parlour and barbershop are the work of a rival gang.
A senior Canterbury-based Mongols figure was kicked out of the Hells Angels last year, which led to the disbandment of the gang’s Quake City chapter in Christchurch.
He is linked to the tattoo parlour via an ex-partner.
A Mongols member has confirmed the gang is connected to the barbershop, but it’s unclear what that connection is.
On Tuesday evening Bristol Barbers took to Facebook to say it was with “immense sadness” they would not be reopening the shop.
“We were unable to get insurance due to the way the shop was built. The fire has destroyed everything, nothing was able to be saved.
“We put everything we had into the shop. We don’t have anything left to reopen.”
However, on Wednesday morning the shop posted on Facebook that due to the overwhelming support from the public they decided they could not leave and had started a Givealittle page.
The fundraising page says that on February 14 someone decided to smash the window and tried to set the shop on fire, but did not succeed.
“We managed to open the next day. Ten days later on the 24th they came back and finished the job.
“They drove a car into our shop and set it on fire . . . unfortunately, we didn’t have insurance as the building was deemed a fire risk and would not give us insurance.”
Any funds would be used to try rebuild the barbershop.
“We can’t leave, we will stand strong, and we will rebuild.”
Detective Sergeant Gavin Jeffs said on Monday police were seeking witnesses after a stolen vehicle was driven through the front of the store and the premises was set alight.
Two men were seen leaving the shop on foot shortly after.
Both were described as being of average height and build, wearing dark hoodies and balaclavas.
“Police are working to establish any links with a previous incident at the barbershop on Friday 14 February,” Jeffs said in a statement.
“The motive for both the incidents and whether there is any links to gang associations are undetermined with the investigations still in the early stages.”
Stuff earlier reported the Mongols MC, involved in a recent North Island shooting, had expanded into the South Island after senior members, including national president Jim Thacker, travelled to Christchurch and started the Canterbury chapter of the gang.
The gang’s headquarters is on Main South Rd at The Old Sawmill in Burnham, opposite the Burnham Military Camp.
A patched Mongols member previously said the barbershop was “sort of” connected to the gang.
“We haven’t caused any trouble, it’s just people not wanting us around … we’re new to town,” he said.
“We’re not going out to go get some revenge or anything like that because that’s just what everyone expects. That’s just stupid, we’d rather just keep our family safe and move on with life, and start our businesses and be happy and ride motorbikes.”
Anyone with information about Sunday’s incident or those involved is asked to contact Christchurch police on 105 quoting file number 200224/9498.
Information can also be passed on anonymously by calling Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.