A Ford Courier, one of the favoured targets of break-ins and thefts. PHOTO/EMMA BROWN

Police: Car theft ring suspected

ELI HILL and EMMA BROWN

A car theft ring could be behind scores of ute thefts in Wairarapa, police say.

And it’s likely only a third will be recovered.

Mazda Bounty and Ford Courier utes are being stolen across Wairarapa, and police have encouraged all drivers to secure their vehicles.

Acting Senior Sergeant Shayne Nolan said 31 vehicles had been stolen in Wairarapa and the Hutt this year [up to November 22], with utes in particular being targeted.

“We’ve dealt with car ringing groups in the past,” he said.

“From the pattern of offending that we’ve seen, we suspect there is an organised group of offenders within the region doing the bulk of this offending at the moment.

“Our team are actively working to identify those responsible, but we urge the public to come forward with any information that will help in identifying the group of individuals responsible.”

Nolan said the fact Bounty and Courier utes were popular, easily customisable, and appealed to a wide range of people, meant it was easy for them to be sold as parts.

“There is a greater amount of organisation around the theft of these.

“There’s more thought put into this and not so much the opportunistic types of thefts.”

Once taken, about two-thirds of the utes are never recovered.

This is significantly higher than all other vehicles where only about a third weren’t recovered.

Police said people needed to ensure vehicles were secured and locked, particularly in public areas as well as taking or hiding valuables, such as electronics, jewellery and wallets, when leaving the vehicle.

Buying a steering lock or an immobiliser was also recommended. Police urged people to look out for visitors and to let police know of anything or anyone that looks out of place.

“Importantly, we ask people to not put themselves in danger or take the law into their own hands if confronted by offenders, but to instead contact police,” Nolan said.

“It’s a precaution overall.

“Anyone who’s committing an offence, you can’t be sure how far they’ll go to evade arrest.”

  • People who see any suspicious activity around a vehicle should report it to 111 immediately.