Police are appealing for witnesses after four teenagers were seen running away from the Waitangirua Community Policing Centre in Porirua last night, shortly before a fire destroyed a police car and scorched another parked alongside.
An unmarked Holden Commodore used by the CIB was burnt out in the suspicious blaze while heat melted the door handles and scorched paint and panels of a Law Related Education Programme vehicle parked nearby.
A man who raised the alarm saw four youths in their mid to late teens, three wearing caps and one a beanie, climb the policing centre's gates and run from Corinna Street towards Maraeroa Marae and Warspite Avenue minutes before the fire started.
Detective Sergeant Brent Clark, Waitangirua CIB, said police and ESR forensic scientists are today trying to determine the cause of the blaze.
"We don't know at this stage if fireworks or an accelerant was used," he said. "Flames had engulfed the vehicle when the fire service arrived and it was lucky the lpg tank didn't explode."
Detective Sergeant Clark said the fire service was called at 11.47pm by a man walking past the Corinna Street entrance to the policing centre's gated car yard. The passerby noticed thick smoke coming from inside the yard.
Earlier, between 11.15pm and 11.40pm, the man had walked past the CPC to the Waitangirua Mall and had seen four teenagers climb the car yard's 2m high locked gates and run away towards the marae.
"He heard three loud bangs and when he walked back with a friend a few minutes later smoke was pouring from the yard.
"We're lucky the man called when he did," Detective Sergeant Clark said. "It's bad enough to lose one vehicle and have a second damaged, but his prompt call stopped the fire from spreading to four other cars parked in the yard."
A police dog tracked a scent for a short distance but it stopped near the marae, suggesting the offenders had left the area in a vehicle.
"We don't know what's motivated the attack, but we're sure those responsible will be skiting about it," Detective Sergeant Clark said.
"We're asking anyone who was in the area of the CPC last night, or who has information about the fire or those responsible, to contact Waitangirua Police."
The number is: 04 439 0870.
Police will be reviewing security options at the CPC which although alarmed, is not a 24 hour station.