A third man has been arrested in relation to ram-raids on ATMs in South Auckland and police estimate that in the last six months up to $1 million in damage has been caused
in the smash-and-grab attempts.
The Herald reported yesterday that a gang of thieves was using stolen 4WDs to smash through walls and rip cash machines from service stations and shopping centres in Mangere, Otahuhu and Manurewa.
Police confirmed there had been a number of ram-raids in those areas, and were working to establish whether they were linked.
Two men were arrested in relation to ram-raids last week and face charges of burglary and stealing vehicles.
Yesterday, Acting Detective Inspector Pete Jones said a third man had been arrested.
The most recent ram-raid was on Friday at SaveMart in Browns Rd, Manurewa. Police were called after people heard a "loud bang" and saw a 4WD ramming the front of the building.
Three cars fled the scene, one ramming a police patrol car. After a 21-minute pursuit, police located the 4WD and arrested the driver. Mr Jones said the other two cars, believed to be stolen, had not been found.
He said the investigation was tricky as all ATM ram-raids were essentially the same in method.
"There is always going to be a certain number of similarities with this type of offending. Friday's ram-raid is consistent with the ones we are investigating. There are similarities, but it's hard to say there is a positive link."
Mr Jones said on most occasions the thieves were unsuccessful and the ATMs were not taken. When they did manage to dislodge and pinch the machine, "very little" money was taken.
"But they have caused a huge amount of damage - hundreds of thousands, if not up around the million-dollar mark," he said.
He urged anyone with information to come forward.
"The people who do this sort of offending go around talking about it. There'll be people out there who know the people involved."
CAN YOU HELP?
Anyone with information about any of the ram-raids in South Auckland in the past six months should call the Counties Manukau police major crime team on (09) 263-1300 or provide information anonymously by calling Crimestoppers on (0800) 555-111.