Tuesday, 24 June 2003 - 12:17pm |

Police dent million dollar car crime operation

2 min read

A Wellington Police District car crime task force has put a dent into a million dollar car ringing network thought to involve more than 120 high performance cars.

Inspector Marty Grenfell, Wellington Area Controller, and Detective Sergeant Mark Buttar, car task force head, say in the last five weeks 11 people have been arrested and charged with offences including unlawful taking, theft of motor vehicles and receiving. More arrests are anticipated.

The task force was set up five weeks ago to counter the rising number of cars being unlawfully taken and modified in the Wellington District.

In the short time the team has been operating, they have recovered cars valued at more than $200,000 and gathered a wealth of information about car crime.

&#34Indications are that several networks are operating with links to gangs and the street racer scene,&#34 Mr Grenfell says. &#34They’re operating workshops in light industrial and residential areas.&#34

Mr Grenfell says thieves are targetting the sought after high perfomance models such as Subaru Impreza and Mitsubishi Lancer Evo’s. Screwdrivers and other crude methods are used to break into the vehicles which are then driven off to another site for remodification.

&#34Skilled criminals working in teams are taking the cars, often from public car parks, then changing the vehicle’s identity and putting it back on the road, sometimes within three hours. The end results looks like a legitimate vehicle.&#34

Police know of one person who was stopped by police four times in a stolen vehicle. Each time police checked licence details, warrant of fitness, registration plates and stamped chassis number and each time the driver was free to leave -- everything visible appeared to be correct.

&#34If you see suspicious activity involving vehicles, or different vehicles coming and going from an address in a short time span, ring police,&#34 he says.

&#34These cars can be stripped, modified or put back on the road within three hours. Your car or a family member’s car could be at risk.&#34

Mr Grenfell says some cars are being stripped purely for their parts such as mag wheels or stolen to order and some for modification.

He also encouraged people to watch and report car security systems being activitated. &#34The public has become a bit complacent on hearing car security alarms sounds. Next time one goes off, take a look and if you’re unsure about the owner’s identity, call police.&#34

Other car security measures include:

• Securely garage your vehicle where possible
• Immobilise it if it is going to be parked on the roadway for some time (eg remove rotor arm)
• Install car security alarms.