Police have made 12 arrests and issued over 200 infringement notices after more than 1000 street racers caused havoc in Waikato overnight.
Hamilton City area commander Inspector Will Loughrin said more than 1000 “anti-social road users” blocked roads and exhibited unsafe driving behaviours across the district.
Attending police also alarmingly found a baby in one of the vehicles being driven by a group of teenagers, believed to have travelled from out of the district.
“The vehicle was subsequently impounded,” Loughrin said.
There were also a number of people in attendance with children.
Seven people were arrested for excess breath alcohol levels, two for disorder, one for driving while suspended, one for a breach of a home detention order, and another had an existing warrant out for their arrest.
Around 220 traffic infringements were issued, as well as a number of infringement notices to bystanders who were consuming alcohol within liquor ban areas.
Three people also had their licences suspended.
The arrests form part of Operation Shadow, in which police target offenders participating in illegal street racing, focusing on activity in Hamilton City and the wider Waikato region.
Loughrin said there were a number of unsafe behaviours observed by police.
“There were numerous instances of people blocking intersections – both pedestrians and vehicles – a number of vehicles with no number plates and people wearing balaclavas in direct attempts to hide their identities, and people seen hanging out of windows of cars driven at speed,” he said
He said while it was pleasing the gatherings of people and vehicles dispersed upon police attendance, their behaviour was incredibly concerning and put countless people at risk.
“We know the community is sick and tired of this behaviour and people who needlessly put others at risk.
“We want to send a message to anyone involved in this type of behaviour that police will work incredibly hard to hold you to account for any illegal activity – either at the time or after the fact,” Loughrin said.
Police also came across a disorder incident in which two people were stabbed shortly after 12.30am on State Highway 27 in the Matamata area.
Loughrin said it involved those taking part in the illegal street racing.
“Police are making follow-up enquiries into the circumstances of this incident,” Louglin said.
He said police will be utilising tools such as CCTV and other information gathered at the time to follow up on any other criminal offending.
“Police thank everyone who reported concerns to us, and appeal to anyone who has information on illegal or unsafe activity to report this to police via 105 with as much detail as possible,” he said.
Benjamin Plummer is an Auckland-based reporter who covers breaking news. He has worked for the Herald since 2022.