'Get our message or get car crushed'

OURS NOW: Constable Shane Ohlson, with a 1993 Toyota Supra, ready to be towed to a secure place. It was impounded by police during Operation West this week.
OURS NOW: Constable Shane Ohlson, with a 1993 Toyota Supra, ready to be towed to a secure place. It was impounded by police during Operation West this week.

Nelson police have seized 12 cars from boy racers this week as part of a new covert police operation cracking down on the fraternity and their dangerous driving.

Police are warning boy racers cars will be crushed if they do not get the message.

Nelson Bays acting area commander Senior Sergeant Dave Gibson said neither the police nor the community was prepared to tolerate the antics of the group.

"We know that issuing endless fines hasn't stopped the offending, but without their vehicles they may see the world differently. Only one vehicle has been crushed in New Zealand under the boy racer legislation, but I fully expect the next one will be in Nelson in the near future if this group doesn't get the message now."

The new police initiative, Operation West, has seen officers covertly gathering intelligence and filming offending by the boy racing community over the past month, before taking enforcement action.

It has been named Operation West because the drivers have congregated in Waimea West and other areas including Best Island and the top of the Moutere highway.

Mr Gibson said the covert tactics in the operation were used to avoid the possibility of starting a pursuit situation.

"We're not chasing these guys down the road at high speed. We're watching and gathering our evidence without them knowing. Then we're turning up at home or work and taking the vehicle. It's safe and effective and we know these people won't be offending without a vehicle to drive."

On top of 10 impounded vehicles, a number of other charges have been laid, including 15 of driving with sustained loss of traction, a charge of dangerous driving and two of reckless driving.

One driver was charged with three sustained loss of traction offences for separate incidents, plus an additional charge of reckless driving.

Are you a Nelson boy racer? How will the police crackdown affect your hobby? Email chiefreporter@nelsonmail.co.nz or phone 03 546 2881

Yesterday police towed a $12,000 Toyota Supra from a Richmond towing centre to a secure location. The driver of the car had been caught doing a burnout and the car was seized from a private address earlier that morning. He now faces 28 days without his vehicle and will have to pay more than $400 to get it back.

Cars impounded are also green-stickered and owners will have to get a new warrant after they get it back, even if the car is warranted, before they drive it again. The car must be taken to specified vehicle testing stations where inspectors will thoroughly inspect the vehicle for illegal modifications.

An impounded Nissan Skyline was also in the Richmond yard.

Mr Gibson said past efforts by police to break the unacceptable driving practices of the boy/girl racer group were hampered by the group's ability to scan police radios, contact each other via cellphones, and alert the group to police attendance.

He warned that police would be impounding any vehicle that met the criteria under the law.

"It's not going to help if you register your car under someone else's name, or if you're driving someone else's vehicle. The vehicle will be seized."

He said boy racers posed a threat to themselves and other road users and police wanted them off the road.

Constable Shane Ohlson and Senior Constable Alfred Blair said police were also focusing on the way that the boy racers were travelling to their gathering spots as this was also placing the public at risk.

The operation was unsettling the boy racer community and one boy racer had been charged with obstructing police after he was arrested as he allegedly went through a police car to find a rumoured list of vehicles police had.

Mr Blair asked members of the public to report detailed information, car makes and registrations, that helped identify cars and their occupants.

Police were keeping files on identified cars as part of the operation.

Those charged as part of the operation are due in Nelson District Court on May 28.


Operation West results so far: Cars seized: 12

Burnout charges: 15

Failing to stop at compulsory stop sign: 44

Reckless driving: 2

Dangerous driving: 1

Driving in a noisy manner: 17

Parking infringements: 10

Other offences: 12

The Nelson Mail