Hundreds of vehicles stolen in past year

By Brendan Manning, Teuila Fuatai

The number of vehicles stolen in Rotorua jumped by more than 10 per cent in the past year.

Twenty-four vehicles were stolen locally in February, down from 30 in February, 2012.

However, 365 vehicles were stolen in Rotorua last financial year - up 41 on the previous 12 months - with 31.2 per cent of cases resolved by police.

The most frequently stolen car - for the second consecutive year - was the Honda Torneo, according to AA Insurance claims data. Car thieves tended to favour older cars - as their lack of security features made them easier targets. Nearly 90 per cent of theft claims relating to cars on the AA Insurance top 10 stolen cars list were manufactured more than 10 years ago.

The claims' data also showed a car manufactured before 1997 was twice as likely to be stole as one made in 2005 onwards.

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.

Rotorua resident Wiremu Mako became the proud owner of a 2002 2.5L Subaru Legacy earlier this year. The car is rated as the fourth-most stolen car on AA's Insurance claims list.

The 28-year-old teaching student inherited the car in January from his mother, who had been driving it for four years.

"We're down a driveway ... so we keep it [the car] off the road."

Hundreds of vehicles stolen in past year

It is always locked as another of the family's vehicles was broken into in June last year, Mr Mako said.

"They [thieves] left the car, but took a guitar and $4000 worth of carving chisels."

Apart from his friends, Mr Mako had not caught anyone "eyeing" up the car.

"We've never had any problems with it."

Franklyn Scrap Metal employee Lindsay Longdin said it was hard to tell whether a car which came in as scrap metal was stolen unless staff had received prior warning.

"When someone brings a car in that we know is stolen, then we just basically turn them away."

Anyone delivering cars to be scrapped had a copy of their driver's licence and the registration of the car they were driving recorded, he said.

There had been instances where stolen cars had been brought in, only to be collected by their rightful owner later on, Mr Longdin said.

A list of recently stolen cars was provided to the scrap metal dealer by police.

However, Mr Longdin said "you sort of know and get a rough idea of who's who and what's what".

Rotorua police area commander Inspector Bruce Horne said locally the most stolen cars were Subarus (in particular the Subaru Legacy), Toyota hi-lux utility vehicles and Nissan Ciferos.

He said the most effective thing people could do to prevent crime was to reduce the opportunity.

"One of the biggest frustrations for police, particularly in respect of vehicle crime, is people leaving cars unlocked with the keys in the ignition. Or leaving the car unlocked with valuable and portable items in full view - such as laptop computers, camera bags, wallets and mobile phones."

Mr Horne said it was a myth that most vehicle crime occurred in city carparks, as most were stolen from rural properties or in the suburbs.

"Another myth is that most vehicles are stolen for street racing.

"While it's true that some are, for over 20 years more than half of the vehicles stolen from Rotorua are 4WD and commercial vehicles."

- Rotorua Daily Post

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