Push to stop thefts from cars

By Kristin Edge

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Security-camera positioning in Whangarei's Town Basin will be reviewed as police plan operations to combat car break-ins at the popular city spot.

On Monday last week, five Japanese girls had their van broken into within minutes of parking at the Town Basin.

Three of the upset women were left with only the clothes they were in. They returned to the North Shore, where they were studying English, rather than continue their holiday in the North.

The women had planned to stay a week, go on tourist rides, visit Waitangi, Paihia, Russell, Cape Reinga, Waipoua Forest and many other places.

They left the North Shore about 7am and arrived in Whangarei about 10am, parking at the Town Basin. After a walk, they returned about 11am to find the van's lock was broken and the vehicle ransacked.

A number of CCTV cameras are sited at the Town Basin, funded by the council and monitored by the police.

Relieving Whangarei/Kaipara Area Commander Inspector Tracy Phillips said it was disappointing visitors were targeted by thieves.

"I think it's a cheap shot and police will be dealing with the problem to ensure our visitors, as well as local people, do not become victims of this crime," Mrs Phillips said.

That included looking at where the CCTV cameras were placed and carrying out operations in the central city and the Town Basin area.

She would not reveal more details of the police operations or what action they would be taking to deter thieves.

Whangarei District Council manager of community services Owen Thomas said the council's Summer Safe programme worked with a range of community groups throughout the district to prevent theft from vehicles during the summer months.

Those tourist hotspots included Whangarei Falls, Whale Bay and Abbey Caves.

Mr Thomas confirmed there were year-round security patrols in the Town Basin, seven days a week, during the evening and early morning.

He said a council staff member also monitored the area with routine surveillance along the retail areas and new heritage trail, to accompany the CCTV cameras.

Police urged members of the public to immediately report any suspicious behaviour on 111.

If people had information relating to stolen property they could contact their local police station or call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.

- Northern Advocate

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