Fight­ing crime

The Tribune (NZ) - - FRONT PAGE - RICHARD MAYS

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

PHOTO: DAVID UNWIN/STUFF

Com­mu­nity Pa­trollers are pro­vid­ing tam­per proof screws for li­cence plates, from left Den­nis Drom­gool, Kim Zentveld and Suzy Hills.

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