Western Bay's worst recidivist criminal has 479 convictions - mostly relating to fraud and deception offences, Justice Ministry figures show.
Details of the individual's offending were released to the Bay of Plenty Times as part of a wider information request on New Zealand's most prolific criminals. Convictions, grouped by offence type and court cluster, were handed down between July 1980 and June 2012.
John Booth - manager of Waikato Prisoner Aid and Rehabilitation Society, which encompasses the Western Bay area - said providing practical support for offenders after they were released from prison lessened the likelihood of re-offending. Accommodation services that enabled offenders to move into a home were important, he said. Keeping outside ties with family was also essential, he said. "Our belief is that family is going to be the strong support for them ultimately so we'll assist with helping the family visit them."
The Western Bay's top 10 criminal list shows four individuals have more than 300 convictions each. Fraud and deception offences were most common, followed by theft.
The Justice Ministry refused to name the offenders, or even reveal their ages or genders, citing privacy.
But it planned to ask the Chief District Court Judge for the names to be made public.
The identities of other offenders with high numbers of convictions have previously been reported in the media.
Two prolific Bay burglars were jailed last year after amassing 92 convictions between them.
Brookfield man Adrian Arthur Matetaka had 27 previous burglary convictions before being handed a jail sentence for his most recent Mount Maunganui burglary attempt. Parkvale man James Jimmy Dixon was also sent to prison after breaking into a house last January. He had 63 previous convictions.
The Howard League for Penal Reform and Sensible Sentencing Trust are calling for the worst recidivist criminals to be publicly named. "The hardcore conman is the hardest one to rehabilitate," league chief executive Mike Williams said. "It's a lifestyle choice." Naming those conmen would benefit the public, he said. "Obviously these are not victimless crimes. If you know these people are conmen, you can at least avoid them.
"That's their business and an occupational hazard of that business are jail terms," he said.
The country's worst recidivist offender has 1152 convictions, while number two on the list has clocked up 676.
Sensible Sentencing Trust spokesman Garth McVicar said criminals should be named after their first offence. "The name and previous history should be out there from day one."
New Zealand's 10 worst offenders over the 31-year period racked up nearly 6300 convictions.