More motorists are choosing to run from police during lockdown. Journalist Kelly Makiha talks to a Rotorua woman who got caught up in the crossfire of a chase and to Rotorua's police boss about crime trends during level 4.
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More "knuckleheads" have been doing runners from Rotorua police during lockdown, the city's top cop has revealed.
Rotorua police acting area commander Inspector Phil Taikato said with fewer people on the roads, those up to no good were standing out.
He said when police attempted to pull people over who were not travelling for legitimate reasons, some were choosing to accelerate away.
He said the increase had been noticeable with two or three chases a day.
Figures supplied to the Rotorua Daily Post last year showed there were on average five or six car chases in the Rotorua region a week - the highest of the Bay of Plenty regions.
Rotorua teacher Sarah Kinsella has witnessed two chases within a couple of days as she and her family were out walking.
She described the behaviour as "disgraceful".
"We are all in lockdown, and like the prime minister has repeatedly said, we are all in this together. What are these knuckleheads thinking?"
She said in the first chase she saw two men on dirt bikes not wearing helmets. About 10 minutes later she heard them again but this time they were being chased by police.
A few days later, on Wednesday last week, after she had just finished the first day of homeschooling her children when they went out to the Springfield shops, walking along the new cycleway while the kids rode their scooters.
"Each day we go out for exercise I can't help but notice the amount of unmarked and marked police cars there have been around suburbia. The police are doing an excellent job at enforcing the rules of the lockdown, but also generally educating people about what the rules are.
"We were walking past Utuhina Rd and I noticed an unmarked police car drive past us towards Devon St. As we approached the corner I heard an almighty roar coming from behind us. I turned around and a blue car sped past us, excessively fast. My children were up ahead of me approaching a corner. The first thing that came to my mind was 'what the hell is that idiot speeding for'?"
She said she feared for her children.
"Had that car lost control on that corner, they could have taken my kids out. It was seconds later that the unmarked police car had turned around and was then chasing this car."
Kinsella said most people were following the rules with the safety of others at the forefront of their minds.
"It is disgraceful that this sort of behaviour is happening around our local streets ... I would love to know their reason for speeding and creating high speed chases with the police. Their reason must be more important than the safety of our families out on our streets ... There is no excuse to speed nor run from the police during lockdown. Please. Stay home."
Meanwhile, Taikato said since March 25 when level 4 began, there had been a significant drop in crashes. Before lockdown police were called to between 40 to 50 crashes a week. Now they were in single figures each week.
He said car crime had also reduced significantly, with just six cars stolen in the past week and five thefts from cars during the same period.
Normally those weekly figures were well into the double digits, he said.
He suggested this was mainly because most of the thefts were happening at tourist locations, which were currently closed.
Burglaries were also significantly lower as a result of people guarding their homes 24 hours a day and there had been few commercial burglaries, although it was possible thefts might be noticed when people returned to their workplaces.
"I can't say too much for operational reasons but while people might not think we are responding now to some things, we have been gathering a lot of information during this lockdown. We feel like we are getting on top of how our underworld are moving and we will be implementing actions in the future."