Tourists warned about Kiwi thieves

KATE CHAPMAN
Last updated 10:45 16/03/2012

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Incoming tourists are being warned about the risk of theft from cars and campervans in New Zealand, but Police Minister Anne Tolley says there has been no spike in incidents.

A number of incidents involving European tourists in Auckland and Rotorua generated media attention over the summer holidays, and last week the Argentine Embassy in Wellington advised tourists in New Zealand to take care with their belongings.

"There has been an increase in the number of reported robberies, especially of cars and camper vans left unprotected, in larger cities and popular tourist areas," it said in a regular newsletter.

Romina Bocache, head of its consular section, said they decided to include the notice after being contacted by several young people whose belongings had been stolen.

There was no violence involved and it often occurred when people left their vehicles unlocked.

"It's just to tell them to be careful because here it's very quiet but you have to lock the doors and have normal precautions."

Ms Tolley said she had not been advised of a spike in such incidents, even during the Rugby World Cup last year when there was a significant rise the overall number of tourists, many of whom were using campervans.

"However, we know that in some areas, such as Auckland and Rotorua, campervans were targeted by criminals."

It was normal for embassies to warn visitors to be vigilant, she said.

A spokesman for the Foreign Affairs ministry said officials met regularly with embassy representatives and foreign missions based here.

None had expressed concerns about the level of petty crime.

A spokeswoman for the German Embassy said there had been a warning about thefts from vehicles on its website for about two years.

"A lot of people they arrive at the airport, get their campervan, they drive to the next supermarket around the corner and then they think well, I'm in New Zealand nothing will happen'.

"It's stupid from them because in Germany you wouldn't leave your belongings in the car either."

More than 65,000 German tourists and 8000 working holidayers visit New Zealand annually, the embassy usually gets one or two people contact it each week after having their passport stolen from a vehicle.

A warning of the French Embassy's website also warns of thefts from cars and campervans and recommends people take their valuable belongings with them.

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- The Dominion Post

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