Thieves smash and grab meter cash

NICOLE PRYOR
Last updated 09:11 04/12/2013

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Thieves thought to be posing as parking wardens have smashed their way into parking meters around central Auckland, stealing thousands of dollars, police say.

In a spate of thefts, more than 40 of the city's pay and display machines were hammered during November.

The worst-hit areas were in the CBD and nearby suburbs, including Parnell and Remuera.

Police would now work with Auckland Transport (AT) to investigate the thefts, relieving city central area commander, Inspector Vaughn Graham said.

"We believe the offenders are well organised and could even be posing as servicemen as some of the offending has occurred early in the afternoon," he said.

"This may involve the use of a commercial-style vehicle to assist in that ruse."

The offenders would be trying to convert their large quantities of coins into cash, Graham said.

Each machine damaged cost about $2000 to repair.

"The machines are owned and operated by Auckland Transport (AT) and, in terms of costs for repairs, the offending is taking a toll on the pockets of Auckland rate payers."

It is not the first time Auckland pay and display machines have been targeted.

In 2010, a man labelled as the "nocturnal parking meter predator" stole 12 pay and display machines.

According to court documents, Waitakere's Grant Edward Lindsay Bronsan Hart, 37, stole 11 of the machines - each weighing 90kg and worth $8500 - in less than a month.

Auckland police said it appeared Hart had used some equipment to prise the machines loose from their concrete bases. He then allegedly loaded them into the back of his flatbed ute, and fled.

Police asked the public to report any suspicious activity in public car parks and note down registration numbers of vehicles involved.

If it was safe to do so, police recommended filming or photographing the activity with smart phones.

Anyone with information about who was responsible, or about large volumes of coins being converted to paper money, should contact Detective Sergeant Mark Franich on 09 302 6949, or call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.

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