Perceptive patrol nab thieves

By Roger Moroney

An instinctive feeling of "that's not the sort of car they'd be driving" by two members of Napier's Community Patrol last weekend led to police nabbing four youths had who stolen a car from Wairoa the night before.

For Senior Sergeant David Sutherland it was not only a good result but also what he called a clear example of how effective the volunteer community patrols could be.

"This was fantastic work from members of the patrol and we are extremely appreciative of their efforts," he said.

It was not only their "instinctive" observations but also their perseverance in looking for the car later after it had sped off.

The incident was sparked off when the two community patrollers were in the McDonald's carpark at about midnight last Friday.

Napier Community Patrols coordinator Sandy Ibbotson said the volunteers were both young men and they immediately became suspicious when they saw four youths climbing into a car which did not suit them.

One later described it as a car usually used by "older people" and not the domain of young drivers.

"Since we got under way about seven years ago we have worked in closely with police and they have been instrumental in the training."

The bottom line, she said, was "if something does not look right it probably isn't".

"And in this case it wasn't."

A check with police on the car's registration revealed it was stolen and patrols were alerted.

The youths drove off and briefly lost the community patrollers.

"We can't speed to follow someone but they went looking for it and came across it in Prebensen Drive."

They immediately called it in to police and officers stopped the vehicle a short time later in Riverbend Rd.

The youths scattered on foot but police units rounded them up.

Mrs Ibbotson said the main focus of the community patrols was to be high profile and work more in crime prevention.

But there were times when they did spark arrests as part of their patrols.

"It is great to get a result like this," she said.

Mr Sutherland agreed.

"They are the extra eyes and ears of the police and their work is invaluable not just to us but to the whole community."

Neither of the patrollers wanted to be identified.

Mrs Ibbotson said both worked full-time during the day and one is a young father, but put in whatever hours they could.

She said the Napier group had about 210 volunteers on the books but were always seeking more.

In the five years volunteers had patrolled parking areas around the Mission Concert site not one vehicle had been reported broken into. It was the same during the Rugby World Cup in 2011.

- Hawkes Bay Today

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