Another youth crime spree in Hamilton
A gang of youths went on a crime spree through a Hamilton suburb yesterday, breaking into cars, disturbing residents and stealing a gun with ammunition.
The six boys, believed to be aged 13 to 16, broke into at least 12 cars in Hillcrest, leaving a trail of alcohol, clothing, bags and camping gear behind them.
It is the second crime spree involving teenage boys in Hamilton in less than a week after five 14-year-olds from Auckland were arrested for allegedly stealing cars and property on Saturday.
But City area commander, Inspector Greg Nicholls, doesn't believe the incidents are down to boys being at a loose end over the summer holidays.
"While there are a number of victims created, catching them [yesterday] morning has prevented further people being victimised and I have no doubt that they would have gone on to carry on their crime and offending until they were caught."
At least 12 cars were broken into, but Mr Nicholls said the most disturbing thing was that the boys stole a .308 calibre rifle and ammunition from one of the vehicles.
The gun and ammunition were found with one of the offenders at a Fenwick Cres house.
Police were alerted to yesterday's spree by a Mansel Ave resident who disturbed three boys on bikes breaking into his car about 4am. The man got in his car and followed the trio while on the phone to a 111 call centre operator.
"His relaying of this information was fantastic for responding officers who were able to converge on the park and surrounding areas," Mr Nicholls said.
A newly graduated dog handler and his canine partner Gabby tracked the boys about three kilometres to a Nevada Rd house where they were arrested.
Police arrested six boys in total, but believe others may have been involved.
McGregor Pl resident of 18 years, Pat Gage, said she opened her curtains yesterday morning to find the van in the driveway with its doors and boot wide open.
Her daughter's car, which was parked on the road, was also broken into.
"Out of my daughter's car they took a bag of baby clothes and chucked them over at the neighbour's. They took her wallet and chucked it over the fence."
She said it was unsettling to think that the boys had been meddling with vehicles while she was inside the house and assumed they were "bored" with nothing else to do.
Psychologist and youth justice expert Peter Coleman said young people were often drawn to crime by the "thrill" of breaking the rules and not getting caught.
However, he said each case was unique.
"It's fun and exciting. The thrill of the chase and getting away," he said. "It's naughty kids stuff. They're not thinking through the consequences."
Mr Nicholls said it was the second time in a week that police were reminding parents and caregivers to be aware of where their children were.
He also advised people to lock their vehicles, park off the street if possible and remove valuable items.
"In some cases basic security precautions such as locking your vehicle weren't adhered to and certainly leaving a firearm and ammunition in an unlocked vehicle is not acceptable," he said.
"This is something we will be taking up with the owner in the near future."
He asked that people who find their cars broken into, or have items dumped on their property, contact Hamilton Central Police Station on 07 858 6200.
SCHOOL HOLIDAY TROUBLE
Tuesday, Jan 7: A 9-year-old boy was filmed drunk at a Hamilton skate park. Three adults have been charged with supplying him alcohol.
Thursday, Jan 9: Two brothers, aged 14 and 15, were arrested for the alleged burglary of a liquor store in Leamington, Waikato. They allegedly filled two wheelie bins with alcohol before police arrived.
Saturday, Jan 18: Five 14-year-old boys from Auckland were arrested after allegedly stealing cars and property in Hamilton. One boy also led police on a high-speed chase, which was abandoned.
Wednesday, Jan 22: Six boys, aged 13 to 16, arrested after allegedly breaking into at least a dozen vehicles and stealing a gun and ammunition in Hillcrest, Hamilton.