Nine cars have been seized after the events of December 30, where up to 300 cars descended on rural Wairarapa roads, leaving burnt rubber and shaking residents in their wake.
A police spokesperson confirmed they are still actively looking for additional vehicles involved in the planned burnouts. It is alleged that responding police officers had fireworks aimed at them and people were jumping on police vehicles.
The current punishment is a 28-day suspension where the cars are impounded, before being released to the registered owners after payment of the impoundment fee, which is about $400.
Police Minister Mark Mitchell has vowed to impose tougher penalties for those participating in what has been termed anti-social driving behaviour.
The police minister said he is committed to strengthening or introducing legislation that will give police more powers when it comes to boy racers who are “coming out on a regular basis, taking over, and in a lot of cases, terrorising rural communities”.
Mitchell also said his ongoing efforts won’t just be reserved for boy racers – whom he emphatically labelled as “criminals”.
“I am prioritising my expectations around dealing with violence and disorder in our communities,” Mitchell said, noting this includes gangs, boy racers, and the “massive increase” in retail crime.
This response to what he sees as a heightened risk for officers will involve a push to provide more resources for and focus on the frontline.
Mitchell said that the government is working to strengthen laws on impounding vehicles and crushing them, “because I think that once these boy racers work out that they are going to lose their vehicle, then that in and of itself could be a very effective deterrent”.
There has been concern among the community about the growing ‘boy racer’ culture in New Zealand, and Wairarapa Area Commander Scott Miller has previously urged people to remember that not all who attended the events of December 30 participated in the anti-social driving behaviour.
Miller said police had to be careful with their response to the groups – which have been likened to gangs – as a “huge majority of those spectators were just your normal kids”.
A police spokesperson said there were a few roads in Wairarapa – specifically Masterton – that had become a “racetrack” for people wishing to do burnouts.
Charges are currently being considered for a single driver who was arrested at about 4pm on Sunday after reports of a car speeding and doing burnouts on Gordon St in Lansdowne.
The vehicle was located by police on Church St, and one person was taken into custody and arrested for “sustained loss of traction”, a police spokesperson confirmed.