Car theft in Palmerston North is on the rise. During August, 63 cars were reported stolen from the city area. There were 44 stolen in July and 42 in June.
Suzy Hills from Palmerston North’s volunteer Community Patrol said among the tasks carried out by its 40-odd members was keeping an eye out for missing vehicles.
Every so often, they’ll spot one and call it in.
‘‘When you’ve found a stolen vehicle, it’s such a satisfying feeling. It makes you feel good that you’ve done something that makes a difference,’’ said Hills, who has been with the Community Patrol for 16 years, and is now its co-ordinator.
Rugby and stockcar fans, and those attending crowd-drawing events at Central Energy Trust Arena may not realise, but members of the Community Patrol keep an eye on their parked vehicles while they’re inside enjoying themselves.
‘‘The police can’t be everywhere, and we task patrols for anything big on at the Arena.’’
It’s a hands-off ’’eyes and ears’’ and sometimes ‘‘nose’’ operation.
‘‘We see, hear and sometimes smell trouble.’’
Hills and patrol partner Dennis Dromgool smelled smoke on one patrol, found a house fire and called it in.
‘‘We’re non-confrontational - we don’t engage, unless it’s unavoidable. We have first aid training and have helped at accidents and medical emerg- encies that we come across.’’
The patrol is funded only by donations, grants and sponsorships. On Saturday with police and Neighbourhood Support, it will be staking out the Mitre-10 Mega car park.
‘‘We will be fitting tamperresistant screws to vehicle regis- tration plates,’’ Hills said.
‘‘For a gold coin or greater donation, this is a great way to have your plates secured and make crime harder.’’
Plates are stolen for all sorts of reasons, among them drive-offs and ram raids.
‘‘They are quite a problem for police,’’ Hills said.
The secure plates day from 11am to 4pm is an invitation to find out about the patrol’s work, its training and requirements.
‘‘It’s all about community safety. I can’t be a real cop but I can be a community patroller,’’ Hills said.
‘‘We will be fitting tamper-resistant screws to vehicle registration plates’’
Suzy Hills, Palmerston North Community Patrol
Community Patrollers are providing tamper proof screws for licence plates, from left Dennis Dromgool, Kim Zentveld and Suzy Hills.