Counting Crime is a Herald series looking at where and when offending is happening in the community - and who the victims are. Each day we will look at a different category of crime and examine the numbers, meet the people affected the most and reveal the times, days and places you are more likely to fall victim. Today we look at vehicle crime, one of the most common in New Zealand.

It was just another work day for Nellie Ison.

She pulled her car into her reserved space in an inner city car parking building, locked it and walked to her building nearby.

Counting Crime: check out your neighbourhood at Herald Insights here.


When she returned at the end of the day she found that she - like more than 85,000 other Kiwis since mid-2014 - was a victim of crime.

Read more:
Counting Crime: 400,000 Kiwis hit
Car stolen as couple slept 5m away
Thefts from cars - when, why, how and who

Someone had smashed out her back window and helped themselves to everything they could get their hands on.

Usually, Ison never left anything - valuable or otherwise - in the car.

But she was going through a relationship break up and was moving between the home she'd shared with her ex-partner and her new place and had clothes, shoes and other items in bags in the car.

The bags piqued the attention of the thief, who cleaned Ison out and left her with a broken window and a lot of other stress.

"Everything was taken, my entire life was in there basically," she said.

"I was literally left with the clothes I was wearing - they took all of my clothes, my entire wardrobe, jewellery, make up, pretty much all of my personal possessions."


Ison filed a police report and let the owner of the parking building know about the break in - but the culprit wasn't found.

She's annoyed at the thief, but also annoyed at herself over the smash and grab.

Nellie Ison with her still-damaged car. New Zealand Herald photo by Jason Oxenham
Nellie Ison with her still-damaged car. New Zealand Herald photo by Jason Oxenham

"I'm not usually the person who leaves anything in the car," she lamented.

She had to go and buy new clothes and has been given a lot of replacement items from friends and family.

"It's only material stuff, it doesn't matter really but it's the other things that are annoying - things like having to go and buy all new underwear because you have literally none, having to borrow shoes to play netball and getting really bad blisters.

"Just don't leave stuff in your car, I don't usually and I wish I hadn't that day."

How to protect your vehicle

Vehicles can be protected by the anti-theft devices which slow down or foil thieves.

The more time a criminal spends attempting to steal a vehicle increases the likelihood of discovery and apprehension.

The following are some of the different types available that can be fitted to your vehicle.
• Ignition cutout switch or ignition shield
• Fuel cut out switch
• Battery isolator
• Steering wheel lock
• Hand brake lock
• Transmission lock
• Wheel lock
• Lockable fuel cap and wheel nuts (fuel and wheels are frequently stolen)
• Vehicle Alarm System

Bike checklist

• Use a strong chain and lock
• Lock your bike every time you leave it
• Lock your bike in a shed at night (don't leave it lying around)
• Keep a record of the frame number
• Etch your driver licence number, if you have one, on the bike frame

Motorcycle checklist

• Use an ignition lock
• Lock your helmet
• Use a strong thick chain and lock
• Use a good quality padlock
• Consider an alarm or other anti-theft device

Boat and caravan checklist

• Store out of sight if possible
• Secure a dinghy with a security chain
• Use a security rated padlock
• Keep keys in your house (never 'hidden' outside).
• Etch the registration number and/or your driver licence number on the boat or caravan and on the boat trailer
• Mark valuable equipment for identification
• Use a wheel or tow ball lock
• Consider an alarm or other anti-theft device