Invercargill a hotbed for car seizures

21:01, Jan 16 2014

More cars have been confiscated in Invercargill under street racing laws than any other centre in the country except Christchurch.

Justice Ministry figures show seven cars have been confiscated in Invercargill under the Land Transport (Enforcement Powers) Amendment Act and the Sentencing (Vehicle Confiscation) Amendment Act.

The legislation was introduced in 2009.

Seventeen vehicles have been confiscated in Christchurch.

However, whether an order is made to confiscate a vehicle is at the discretion of the judge.

Courts throughout the country have ordered the confiscation of a vehicle in relation to street racing offences on 95 occasions. Two of those were in Queenstown and one in Balclutha.

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Three vehicles across the country have been crushed under the legislation - in Palmerston North, Porirua and Tauranga.

The figures show there have been 34 street racing convictions entered in the Invercargill District Court since June 30 last year and 186 convictions since December 1, 2009.

The four street racing offences are: Operating a vehicle in a race or exhibition of speed or acceleration, driving with a sustained loss of traction, unnecessary exhibition of speed or acceleration causing injury or death and sustained loss of traction causing injury or death.

Sergeant Peter Graham, of the Invercargill strategic traffic unit, attributed the high figure to a mixture of proactive policing and community reporting.

The offending was mostly committed by men or women in their mid 20s and typically carried out on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights, he said.

The top end of Bill Richardson Drive was one of the street racer hotspots along with Dee St, where drivers would accelerate rapidly from the lights, he said.

Police encouraged members of the public to continue informing them of street racing activities.

Acting Senior Sergeant Geoff Sutherland, of Southern Highway Patrol, said a lot of complaints also came from the general south Invercargill area.

Mr Sutherland said police appreciated the public's help.

When a person is convicted of one or more street racing offences the court can order the vehicle be confiscated or sold.

Proceeds of the sale are used to cover the costs of the sale, pay any amount owed pursuant to a security interest, and pay any fines and/or reparation costs. Any surplus is paid to the offender.

When a person has been convicted of a third street racing offence within four years the court can order the confiscation or destruction of a vehicle involved in the offending.

Nationally, 5002 convictions for street racing offences have been entered since 2009, including 206 people twice and 10 people three times. In Invercargill, 15 people have been convicted twice, while in Gore one person has been convicted three times.

The Southland Times