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Source: New Zealand Police (District News)

Please attribute to Area Commander Manawatu, Inspector Sarah Stewart

Manawatu Police encourage all vehicles owners to secure their vehicles following brazen thefts over the last few nights in Palmerston North and Feilding.

This type of offending in Manawatu is predominately committed by small groups of youths, aged between 12-17 years.

Frequently girls are the offenders and their offending is not new. Police are seeing a continuation of this trend where teenagers have been stealing cars, dumping them, stealing other cars close by and dumping them too before fleeing Police when located.

On Thursday our officers dealt with four teenage girls; one 14-year-old, two 15-year-olds and a 16-year-old for offending between 27 and 30 April.

At about 1:30am a stolen Mazda vehicle was seen in Bunnythorpe, which then fled from Police. The female driver travelled into Palmerston North where the vehicle was spiked three times before coming to a stop.  In that vehicle were the four girls who were arrested and appeared in Youth Court that day.

One 15-year-old was charged with unlawful taking of a vehicle and failing to stop and the second 15-year-old was charged with unlawful taking and breach of bail. They both appeared in Court yesterday while the 16 and 14-year-old girls were referred to youth aid for unlawfully getting into a vehicle.

A further two unlawful taking of vehicles, seven attempted unlawful takings and two petrol drive offs are being referred to Youth Aid service with an intention to charge this group.

Then in the early hours of this morning, 2 May, Police identified another stolen vehicle driving in the city. The female driver failed to stop and attempted to evade Police by driving into a local college grounds. Cornered, she backed through the school gates and drove off, dragging the gates behind. Police located the two youths a short time later.

The 16-year-old driver appeared in Court this morning for breaching her bail, unlawful taking of a vehicle, dangerous driving and failing to stop. Her 17-year-old passenger also appeared in court for breaching his bail, possession of instruments for car conversion and unlawful taking.

The teenages who do break-ins similar to this often attempt a number of vehicles in a night, doing damage to windows, steering cowling and ignition barrels before successfully stealing one. In the past we have received reports of three or four thefts or attempts at theft per night.

These young teens will keep offending until we catch them. Rarely do they stop when signalled to by Police and then a fleeing driver event is initiated. This is incredibly dangerous and puts themselves, Police and the public at risk.

We need our young people to stop stealing cars, committing crime and risking their lives and the lives of those around them. This is a problem for our community and our community can also be a part of the solution.

If anyone sees suspicious activity around cars where there are groups of teenage boys or girls, who may not be there or in that vehicle for legitimate reasons, please call Police.

Vehicle theft and interference is often an opportunistic crime and you can minimise the risk of having your car stolen or broken into by, ensuring vehicles are secured and locked and not leaving vehicles on the street where possible. It is really important that drivers take out valuables, including electronics, speed detectors, jewellery and wallets when leaving vehicles.

If you must leave things in your vehicle, please do not leave them in plain sight.

It also is worth considering buying a steering lock which is a great deterrent or an immobiliser for your vehicle.

Please look out for our visitors and community, and let Police know of anything or anyone that looks out of place.

Importantly, we ask people to not put themselves in danger or take the law into their own hands if confronted by offenders, but to instead contact Police.

If you see a crime taking place call 111 immediately.

ENDS

Issued Police Media Centre

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