Vehicle thefts down on year

Vehicle thefts are declining in Northland, thanks in part to the vigilance of local scrap metal dealers.

Forty-eight vehicles were stolen in Northland last month, down from 63 in February 2012.

Last financial year 676 vehicles were stolen across the region - down on the previous year - with 29 per cent of cases resolved by police.

In the past six months alone, 14 trailers, seven motorbikes, seven boat trailers and a scooter were stolen in Northland.

Eight Toyota Hiluxes, six Nissan Terranos, six Subaru Legacys, four Ford Falcons and a red 1971 Ford Mustang also went missing.

Roger King from Northland Parts Warehouse said cars were always checked with police before the company bought Vehicle thefts tumble

them as scrap. If people won't tell us the reg number then we don't buy them."

Mr King said it would have been nearly a year since someone tried to sell him a stolen vehicle.

"We don't buy in parts, we only buy in whole cars - and that's one way of trying to stop stolen parts as well."

The company took a copy of anyone's licence who sold a car for scrap, as well as the vehicle's registration and VIN numbers.

"They tend to find out if you're a hard or easy one - it gets around pretty blimmin' quickly.

"It's obvious, if a guy comes in with a 2000 [model year] car that obviously he can't afford and he's trying to palm it off to you for $500 - you've got to look sideways at it."

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 was the Honda Torneo, according to AA Insurance claims data.

Subarus were also popular with thieves, with the Impreza, Forester and Legacy taking second, third and fourth spots, respectively.

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 consider 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."

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

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

- Northern Advocate

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