Children paid to steal

MICHAEL FOX
Last updated 14:24 28/05/2012

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Children as young as 11 are being recruited into burglary gangs that use social media to quickly on-sell their stolen goods.

The revelations come as police crack down on thieves stealing household items, the re-sellers they supply and their customers. 

A bust last month has resulted in a street gang facing 45 burglary charges.

A hit list of the city's worst known burglars has been drawn up by police.

''The biggest issue for us if that if we can start to track down some of the receivers then it actually puts a bit of a dent in burglaries happening in the first place because if you take out the receivers obviously there's no market for the burglars to [sell] the property to,'' Counties Manukau police acting crime manager Gary Hill said.

Three years ago juvenile offenders were usually aged around 15 or 16, but police were now finding them as young as 11, Hill said.

The youngsters, largely from families associated with crime, are paid to steal.

''That's a concerning trend and it's something that police are obviously working hard to address.''

Following last month's burglary gang bust, police are turning their attention to the groups of customers, tracing stolen property sales through the electronic trail the offenders left. Sales were arranged via text message and using Facebook and Twitter.

Another concerning trend was that normally honest members of the community were being tempted by cheap stolen goods, further fuelling the trade, he said.

''That's the biggest issue we've got at the moment. There's an increasing trend in the community where these people, Joe Blogs, are basically thinking, well if I can get a laptop for $400 instead of paying $2000 for it, I'll give it a go. It is a big concern for us.''

One of the men charged in the burglary sting was re-arrested last week after being caught in a stolen car filled with stolen property.

The maximum penalty for receiving stolen property is seven years jail.

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