|Three Australian sailors face a return trip to New Plymouth to face charges after they allegedly stole a digger and caused $30,000 damage to machinery and fittings at New Plymouth's new Huatoki Plaza.
The trio, all marine technicians aged 22, 23 and 28, were picked up by police in the early hours of Monday morning after smashing a truck with a digger and wedging a tractor on a concrete ramp.
The three men where from the Royal Australian Navy ship Kanimbla, which was berthed at Port Taranaki over the weekend.
Senior Sergeant Selwyn Wansbrough said police received a complaint about 12.30am and the "slightly intoxicated" trio were found a short time later.
"Machinery that was parked in James Lane was started and moved around and damage was caused to both the machinery and other bits and pieces," Mr Wansbrough said.
"It is crazy behaviour from anyone, be it locals or visitors."
The men were arrested but later released into the custody of the navy.
Mr Wansbrough said the ship's officers had co-operated fully with police. "We couldn't have expected any more. We expect full reparation for all damage caused," he said.
The men have been jointly charged with unlawfully taking a motor vehicle and unlawfully interfering with a motor vehicle and summonsed to appear in the New Plymouth District Court on April 2.
The ship sailed for Napier at 10.15am on Monday. The Taranaki Daily News sent questions to Lieutenant Commander Graeme Wong aboard the Kanimbla and to the Australian Defence Force but they had not replied late last night.
New Plymouth District Council project team manager Jeff Bondy said he was extremely disappointed.
"It seems that the three gentlemen had had a little bit too much to drink early on Monday morning and developed a fascination with the contractors' equipment parked adjacent to the Huatoki site," Mr Bondy said.
The trio used a digger to smash up a Whittaker Civil Engineering truck before getting into a tractor.
"They fired it up and they decided that they would like to drive down the ramp to the stream," Mr Bondy said.
The tractor got stuck on the narrow path causing considerable damage to metal supports, wood work and concrete.
Mr Bondy had not spoken with the navy. "I believe that they are extremely remorseful."
Why is ALWAYS the stokers! :P