A sudden spike in thefts from cars has Masterton police urging people to lock their vehicles, even if parked on their own properties.
Wairarapa youth and community services area manager Sergeant Ian Osland said there had been a rise in the number of cars being broken into, with vehicles parked up driveways and in garages also being targeted. Some of them had been left unlocked with wallets, tools, cash and other personal items still in them.
Just because your car was parked on your property did not mean it was safe from thieves, Mr Osland said.
"Please lock, lock," he said. "We can't stress enough how important it is to lock your vehicle or your house, either if you are away from home or going to bed. Even if you're just out the back of the house, make sure the front of the house is locked or vice versa."
Mr Osland estimated more than half of the recently reported thefts from cars and houses could have been avoided if people locked their cars, removed valuables from sight, or put property away in a locked shed or garage.
Many of the thefts appeared to be opportunistic and could have been prevented, he said.
"It's likely we are looking at younger offenders walking around in the early hours of the morning," Mr Osland said.
The young age of many of the offenders was worrying, with some as young as 14 sometimes racking up dozens of charges.
"The age of offenders is getting younger, which ... makes our suspect pool wider, and obviously the risk to them of potentially being disturbed or apprehended by a member of the public who has had a gutful is significant.
"It's not only the impact on the community, but the risk that they're putting themselves in."
Mr Osland urged people to report any type of suspicious activity.
"Police would rather attend and find out there's an innocent explanation rather than miss the opportunity to apprehend the culprit.
"We'd rather be called than not called."
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