Teenagers joy rid­ing in stolen cars

Central Leader - - NEWS - By EMMA WHIT­TAKER

Teenagers as young as 13 are be­lieved to be be­hind a spate of car thefts.

Po­lice have no­ticed a rise in the num­ber of cars be­ing stolen in One­hunga and Oranga and say a small group of 13 to 17-year-olds may be re­spon­si­ble.

‘‘At this stage they just seem to be steal­ing them to joy ride. Most of them are be­ing dumped in the area so they aren’t go­ing very far,’’ One­hunga Com­mu­nity Polic­ing Team Sergeant Rhys Smith says.

At least six thefts in July can likely be at­trib­uted to the teens, Mr Smith says. ‘‘We usu­ally only get a few cars stolen so with th­ese ones on top we have got a rise.’’

Most of the teens are be­lieved to be lo­cal but some ap­pear to be com­ing from South Auck­land where they are later dump­ing cars. Mt Welling­ton Se­nior Sergeant Graeme Porter says the al­leged thieves are tar­get­ing older ve­hi­cles which they find eas­ier to steal.

‘‘They’re not very so­phis­ti­cated yet,’’ he says.

In some cases cars have been bro­ken into and dam­aged, but not taken, be­cause the would-be thieves can’t get them started.

He says the ob­vi­ous safety con­cern of young teens driv­ing cars is also a con­cern.

‘‘This age group can be volatile. They don’t have li­cences and are self taught. They’re also at that age where if they get into a chase with po­lice they’re more likely to to put their foot down and not stop.’’

Four teenagers have been ar­rested and are be­ing dealt with by youth aid af­ter the One­hunga Busi­ness As­so­ci­a­tion’s CCTV op­er­a­tor recog­nised them from an ear­lier break-in.

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