2 men, 24 cars

CAUTIOUS APPROACH: Keep car windows locked, Senior Sergeant Andy King says.
CAUTIOUS APPROACH: Keep car windows locked, Senior Sergeant Andy King says.

Relax at the beach but stay alert and secure your car, police say.

"And that goes for cars parked at home too," Rodney relieving response manager Senior Sergeant Andy King says.

A wave of Red Beach car break-ins highlights the casual attitude people take to locking up. Two men got into 24 cars in one night.

"One major concern to us was how many of the cars were unlocked sitting in driveways and on roadsides," Mr King says.

Police caught the men hiding in bushes after being disturbed.

They say people should not keep valuables in cars.

"Especially in summer, people keep their cars unlocked, windows down and valuables in view.

"This has to change, it draws attention to thieves," Mr King says.

"Cars must be locked whenever you go shopping, to the beach and also when the car is parked overnight in your driveway."

People tend to be more relaxed and quite often leave valuables in sight during warmer months.

"This provides temptation to all sorts of people, both opportunists who just happen to be walking by at the time, or organised crime.

"At times people specifically come into an area to break into as many cars as they can, a large number in a short time," Mr King says.

"Whenever there is an increase in population there is more crime."

More isolated spots are usually targeted.

"Offenders know people parking their cars at the beach will be gone for a number of hours, so they have time to break in.

"Places include Omaha, Leigh, Muriwai Beach and Mahurangi reserves.

"We recommend not leaving anything valuable in the car at all. If you do, at least make sure it is out of sight," Mr King says.

People should call 111 if they see suspicious behaviour around cars.

"We will respond. We have extra patrols ready, especially over Christmas and New Year, to target this sort of crime," Mr King says.

"When we know there is an issue

or a targeted area we will send staff there.

"Phone us even if nothing was taken. Just a call to the local station, so police can record problem areas, is a big help."

Mr King says police often arrest people who break into cars regularly and recover a lot of property as a result.

"If it hasn't been reported as stolen, we can't locate the owner."

The most common stolen items are electronics like iPads, iPods, laptops, and cash.

Thieves usually only enter unlocked vehicles, but if they see valuable items they will break windows to get in.

"There is CCTV footage in certain areas that assist us, but people reporting it is significant," Mr King says.

Police also suggest not leaving car keys on or under tyres and to keep watch on bags or items they take on to the beach.

Rodney Times