Police target youth to reduce house burglaries

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A police operation is targeting youth in a bid to reduce the number of dwelling burglaries which have increased nationally over the past 10 months.

In Northland during that period, 169 dwelling burglaries were committed, of which 117 were by offenders aged 24 and under. When it came to motor vehicle thefts, there were 198 cases involving 147 offenders who were aged 24 and under.

Operation Focus will see police prioritise prevention and investigation of burglaries with a specific focus on house break-ins and young offenders.

Acting Deputy Commissioner Andy Coster said the increase was concerning.

"We know that most burglary is committed by young people; 60 per cent of them under 24 years and 20 per cent of them are under 16. Some of these young people start committing theft and burglary as young as 8 years old," Mr Coster said.

For the year to April 2016, burglary accounted for 26 per cent of all victimisations. It comes two months after Justice Minister Amy Adams announced policies for tackling youth crime were succeeding, with the number of children and young people appearing in the courts in Northland almost halving since 2007/08. In the 2007/08 financial year, 234 children and young people (10-16 year olds) appeared in Northland's youth courts. By the 2014/15 financial year, numbers had dropped by 41 per cent to 138.

Nationally, the figure dropped by 61 per cent from 4998 to 1959 over the period.

"The vast majority of children and young people who are stopped by the police are supported by Youth Aid officers, family group conferences and other means designed to prevent them from offending again."

Ms Adams said the Youth Crime Action Plan underpinned a concerted effort to address offending by young people.

"The plan is a 10-year strategy to 2023, to reduce crime committed by young people and help those who do offend to turn their lives around," she said.

- Northern Advocate

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