School holiday crime surge
The start of the school holidays has seen an increase in public disorder, theft and shoplifting offences, police say.
Palmerston North acting senior sergeant Phillip Ward said police were working with community patrols and Maori wardens to increase surveillance of the central city during the two-week school holidays.
Reports of shoplifting had already increased since the holidays officially began, he said. Shop workers were likely well aware of the holidays and the need to be vigilant toward groups of youths coming into their stores.
Mr Ward said a common practice was for groups to work together, with a couple of people distracting the store assistant while another took something.
Girls seemed to target cosmetics, but anything that could be readily hidden was a potential target.
Instances of shoplifting were evenly distributed among males and females.
Theft from vehicles parked in the central city had increased. Last week, levels of thefts from vehicles increased significantly from the mid teens to the mid 20.
People were still leaving valuables in full view, prompting thieves to smash car windows to get to them, he said.
Items being targeted include global positioning systems, radar detectors, stereos, handbags, wallets and iPods.
"The message from us is for people not to leave valuables in the car, or if they do have to, put them out of view or in the boot."
Some thefts from cars parked at the Plaza took place during Thursday's late night shopping. Police were working with Plaza security and community patrols to deter such offending, Mr Ward said.
Public disorder offences were also a common occurrence, particularly with youths hanging around the skatepark, The Square, the Central Library and the Coleman Mall.
One group has an issue with another and things start to escalate from there, he said.
It was already a common problem for Friday and Saturday nights, but would probably increase over the holidays.
Community patrols and Maori wardens had been notified of those areas and CCTV was active as well, he said.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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