Ciggie gangs share tips on internet
Cells of young robbers are sharing intel on social media to pull off copycat crimes.
Police believe the recent robberies and smashand-grabs plaguing Waikato businesses is being done by groups operating individually but known to each other through friends or associates.
They share their techniques via social media messages or word of mouth, which has led to similar crimes committed by different groups, Waikato police Acting Detective Inspector Dean Anderson said.
‘‘Between some of the groups, we are finding definite associations through family and known associates, so we do believe there is a transfer of information between some groups on the methods of offending.
‘‘We’re confident they are sharing their knowledge and experiences.’’
Police figures show aggravated robberies and burglaries on small and commercial businesses have skyrocketed since August.
These figures only include crimes tallied under Operation Chronos - a name given to the Waikato police operation investigating robberies and burglaries police believe are linked.
Almost all of those 30 involved dairies and service stations and cigarettes were the target.
Evidence showed some of the stolen cigarettes were being sold on Facebook pages, he said. Other stolen goods end up with members of the wider group.
A total of 18 people have been arrested and some face charges for multiple offences. Fourteen of the crimes have prosecutions pending.
This includes the four people aged 17, 18, 21 and 22 who were arrested after allegedly smashing their way into the Z service station in Morrinsville on Friday morning and fleeing in a stolen car with cigarettes. They were arrested in Bader after a police pursuit.
Of the robberies that occurred in the Waikato between April 1 and September this year, 68 per cent were done by offenders under 18. The youngest was 12.
‘‘It’s a fairly nasty figure and reflective of youth offending,’’ Anderson said.