Damaged ignitions, stolen cars, and swiped valuables – it seems everyone and their dog has had a run-in with vehicle crime this month.
And with more than a handful of arrests made last week, Wairarapa police are hoping the crime spree might just pass.
Last Wednesday, police arrested a group of six youths allegedly connected to burglaries in Wairarapa and Wellington City.
The next day, two Wairarapa men were arrested after a late-night police chase in Porirua.
Both men were sought in relation to burglaries in Wairarapa, and stolen property was found in the vehicle, including a chainsaw and a petrol generator.
The men were also found to be in possession of methamphetamine and cannabis, as well as equipment for the distribution of drugs.
Despite these arrests, reports of car crimes continued into the week, with one stolen car used in the armed robbery of Belvedere Dairy in Carterton on Saturday morning.
In this instance, three teenagers were arrested, aged 16, 17, and 19.
The teenagers had entered the dairy armed with a knife and made off with cash and cigarettes in a car that police believe had been stolen earlier from Stokes Valley.
Police tracked the offenders through Carterton with a police dog which found the three hiding in bushland.
Two were arrested without incident but one thought he could outrun the police dog.
Detective Senior Sergeant Warwick McKee said as a result of the crime spike, Wairarapa police had added extra patrols around the western side of Masterton, where most of the vehicle crimes had occurred this month.
“There has been an increase of vehicle crimes centered around Solway and the western side of Masterton, including Bledisloe St, High St, and Kuripuni,” he said.
“There have been roughly a dozen vehicle break-ins a week, though sometimes this can be up to five cars targeted in a night.”
He said targeted vehicles were those parked on the street or on driveways, and the crimes involved the vehicles being stolen, broken into, or their ignition damaged.
“Police advise that people park under street lights and remove goods and valuables from their cars.”
Mr McKee said residents could expect to see an increased police presence in the area.
Masterton Neighbourhood Support’s new co-ordinator Cathy Cameron said people shouldn’t hesitate to call 111 if they noticed strange or criminal behaviour in their street.
This is what helps prevent crimes and stop those responsible for them, she said.
“The advice for residents is to have nothing visible in your car, and always lock your doors – you would be surprised how many people don’t lock their doors,” she said.
“If there is a choice to park your cars off the street – preferably in a garage – do it. And lock your garage. Also, I would advise getting an alarm for your car.”
She said Neighbourhood Support, commonly referred to as its Australian counterpart Neighbourhood Watch, was “not about this image of neighbours peering through curtains – it’s about looking after the well-being of your community, being resilient to national emergencies, and crime prevention”.
If you have any information relating to recent car crimes in Wairarapa, contact your local police station or Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.
Masterton Police: (06) 370 0300
Carterton Police: (06) 379 8032
Featherston Police: (06) 308 8606
Martinborough Police: (06) 306 9401