Industry fights back against car theft

By Brendan Manning

Tougher regulation of the scrap metal industry has seen fewer Hawke's Bay vehicles being stolen for scrap, a local dealer says.

A total of 23 vehicles were stolen in Hawke's Bay last month down from 32 in February 2012.

During the last financial year, 512 vehicles were stolen across the region - a big drop on the previous year - with only 21.1 per cent of cases resolved by police.

Auto Supplies Napier owner Paul Brown said the company used the CarJam website to check the ownership status of any car which came to them.

However, it was hard to check who owned a car which had been de-registered, he said.

"Basically, anything which we buy that isn't through an insurance company or a reputable source - gets checked out on CarJam."

People still regularly tried to sell him stolen cars but the numbers were much lower now than when scrap metal values were higher, Mr Brown said.

"It's not so much stolen cars now, as more people disputing vehicle ownership, usually within families.

"Because we're pretty staunch on it and word gets around in the underworld, they go elsewhere, not here."

Nationwide, 19,642 vehicles were stolen last year and only 22.8 per cent were resolved.

The most common location for vehicles to be stolen from or broken into was public roads, with 32,496 instances nationwide reported in the past financial year, followed by private dwellings (17,859), according to Statistics New Zealand data.

Other hot spots for car thieves included supermarkets and other stores (731), schools (374), garages and service stations (358), hospitals (182), liquor stores (130), doctors' practices (33) and casinos (11).

The most frequently stolen car - for the second consecutive year - was the Honda Torneo, according to AA Insurance claims data.

Subarus were also popular with thieves, with the Impreza, Forester and Legacy models taking out second, third and fourth spots, respectively. The average value of stolen vehicles in the top ten list was $5360.

Car thieves tended to favour older cars - as their lack of security features made them easier targets.

AA Insurance spokeswoman Suzanne Wolton said vehicle owners could make their cars less appealing to would-be thieves by installing an alarm, using a steering lock, or using an immobiliser - making sure it could be clearly seen.

"Thieves will always go for the easiest, fastest option, so if you make it just a little bit harder for them, chances are they'll lose interest in your car and move on to an easier target."

While vehicle theft remains a concern, rates have been decreasing over the last three years.

The best chance of keeping your vehicle safe was to park it in a garage or carport, Ms Wolton said.

For those who did park on the street, parking under a street light would make their car - and any potential thieves - easier to spot.



- Hawkes Bay Today

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