Canterbury leads in 4WD theft

JOELLE DALLY
Last updated 05:00 05/01/2013

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Canterbury has had a big rise in four-wheel-drive thefts, with the region having more stolen than anywhere else in the country.

Canterbury owners are also the least likely to get their vehicles back.

Police attribute the spike to more people moving to the region to work on the rebuild - not only 4WD owners, but also those inclined to steal.

Combined 4WD Clubs president Graham Pullman said several club members had had their vehicles stolen in recent months. He analysed stolen-car statistics on the police website. For the second half of 2012, 4WDs accounted for about 16 per cent of all stolen vehicles in Canterbury, with 65 reported stolen between June and December - more than double that of any other region in the country.

Northland had 25 4WDs reported stolen, Auckland 25, Counties Manukau 21, Bay of Plenty 32, Waikato 22, Waitemata 30, Wellington 27, Tasman four and Southern three.

Pullman said he knew of one case where a 4WD was stolen from a Christchurch car park "in broad daylight" while the owner had nipped into work briefly.

Nissan owners appeared to be the hardest hit.

Pullman has raised the matter with police, and a senior officer will attend the combined clubs' meeting on January 17.

Detective Senior Sergeant John Rae, of the Christchurch volume crime squad, said police were aware of a spike in 4WD thefts.

He said the increase could be driven by more people in Canterbury for the rebuild, meaning more 4WDs in the region, and an increase in demand for parts as people held on to their vehicles longer because of second-hand import restrictions.

"You only have to walk down the street; there's an absolute flock of them [4WDs] around," he said. "The biggest change is the rebuild. A lot of people from out of town are in Christchurch.

"Have we got more thieves? It's a possibility." Rae did not believe the parts were being sent overseas.

"Thieves will steal where there is a market to supply. We suspect the local market is of such a size they can be dismantled and sold here," he said. Four-wheel-drives, particularly older models, had the highest level of "non-recovery", which suggested they were broken down for parts or "rebirthed".

It was less likely an owner would get their vehicle back if the vehicle identification number was only on the chassis and the engine.

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