Temptation drives rise in thefts from cars

KATHRYN KING
Last updated 12:00 13/11/2012

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Thefts from cars have reached 10-year highs in Palmerston North as motorists keep leaving valuables on display.

Acting Senior Sergeant Phil Ward said the weekly number of thefts from cars had reached more than 50 in the past few weeks, blitzing the usual average of 10 to 15.

They are the kind of numbers last seen by police around 10 years ago.

Mr Ward said police last week visited the sites where the majority of the break-ins were occurring - the Lido Aquatic Centre, The Plaza, Harvey Norman's underground car park and car parks at Bledisloe Park and off Te Matai Rd.

Mr Ward said businesses were eager to help stamp out the problem, and they were working with Palmerston North City Council over the design of the council-owned car parks and where foliage could be cut back.

While visiting the Lido, they watched a woman get out of her car and leave her cellphone in plain sight on the dashboard.

At Harvey Norman, items on view included laptops, a guitar and bags full of shopping on the back seat.

"There seems to be an attitude that ‘it's not going to happen to me'."

During the visits, a plain-clothed police officer was looking in car windows and checking car door handles, and while it wasn't meant to be a test of public reaction, no-one reported the officer to any nearby shops, or called police.

"People were parking right next to him and no-one raised the alarm," Mr Ward said.

Police did not encourage people to challenge potential offenders, but they should report any suspicious behaviour.

Three youths had been referred to youth services for break-ins at the Harvey Norman car parks on Saturday night, but it seemed that as soon as one group was apprehended, another moved in.

With Christmas coming, if people continued to leave their valuables in sight, they were making themselves vulnerable, Mr Ward said.

If your car is broken into, Palmerston North police ask that it is reported as soon as possible.

If you see anything suspicious, you can contact city police on (06) 351 3600, or provide information anonymously via crimestoppers 0800 555 111.

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- Manawatu Standard

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