Joint venture to cut car thefts

By Brendan Manning

Wairarapa police are teaming up with scrap merchants in a bid to collar car thieves.

In the last financial year, 96 vehicles were stolen across the region, with 28.1 per cent of the thefts resolved. Four vehicles were stolen last month, one more than in February 2012.

Wairarapa police intelligence Sergeant Mike Sutton said resolution rates were low as many stolen vehicles were never recovered.

Vehicles taken for joy-riding were often found, while others were stripped for parts used for other vehicles, or sold for scrap.

Older vehicles were stolen for scrap more often than newer models, Mr Sutton said.

When a vehicle was stolen which police believed thieves would try to sell for scrap, a notification was sent to local scrap dealers to warn them.

"It just gives them a bit of a heads up that if somebody comes in, it could be linked to that theft."

Dealers would then reject the sale and notify police.

Scrap metal dealers had an obligation to record certain information and police maintained contact with dealers to see who had been trading what.

A green 1996 Mitsubishi van was stolen this month from Supporting Families Wairarapa.

A vehicle stolen by a 16-year-old joyrider from Chapel St, Masterton, in February hit a bridge.

Nationwide, 19,642 vehicles were stolen last year and 22.8 per cent of cases 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 - for the second consecutive year - was the Honda Torneo, according to AA Insurance claims data.

Subarus were also popular, with the Impreza, Forester and Legacy taking out 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."

While vehicle theft remains a concern, rates have decreased over the past three years.

Data over the past four years, show the Auckland region had the highest rate of stolen cars, followed by Wellington, Waikato and Christchurch.

Vehicles were most commonly stolen when parked on the street or in driveways at night.

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

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


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