Counties Manukau Police are concerned at a rise in recent criminal activity by unsupervised young people, some as young as 10-years old, and say parents and caregivers need to take more responsibility and accountability for their care.
The call comes as three young people, including a 16-year-old boy, were involved in a fleeing driver incident yesterday evening, which Counties Manukau Central Area Prevention Manager Inspector Bruce O’Brien says could have easily resulted in tragedy and heartbreak for their families, and other innocent road users.
"While Police are doing all we can to address these issues, we are becoming increasingly frustrated and concerned at the lack of accountability of some parents and caregivers of these young people who are being largely left to their own devices and are committing serious offences, which is placing the community, themselves and Police staff at risk.
“Sadly, yesterday's fleeing driver incident highlights a recent concerning trend of young offenders having a total disregard for other people’s property, or the safety of other, law-abiding members of the community. Driving at a high speed the down the wrong side of the busiest motorway in the country is a death wish, and it is only a matter of time before such selfish behaviour results in themselves or an innocent member of the public being killed or left scarred for life, leaving devastated families and whanau behind to pick up the pieces.”
Inspector O'Brien says Police responded at about 7:45pm after the driver of a vehicle reported as stolen failed to stop for Police in Manurewa. A pursuit was initiated, but abandoned due to public safety concerns when the unlicensed forbidden 16-year-old male driver drove the car on the wrong side of the motorway in an effort to avoid Police.
The Eagle helicopter was then called into assist, and pursuit was re-engaged when it was considered safe to do. Police apprehended the driver shortly after. He will being appearing in the Manukau Youth Court today on multiple charges along with two 16-year-old females who were arrested today.
"What these young people don't appreciate is that these fleeing driver incidents are incredibly high risk for all involved - including the Police staff who respond to them. They are among the most challenging of all the incidents that Police responds to and face a very difficult balance in trying to stop these drivers safely while protecting other road users.
"I therefore want to praise the actions of the staff involved in last night’s incident for their professionalism and skill in managing an extremely dangerous and complex situation,” says Inspector O’Brien.
"Unfortunately, it reflects an increasing trend Police are seeing across Auckland of young people stealing multiple vehicles, travelling in convoys and committing serious crimes, including ram raids on commercial premises, assaults and aggravated robberies.
“There has been an increase in cars being stolen and broken into across Auckland, predominately by opportunistic youths, some as young as 10-years-old.
Inspector O'Brien says while Police across Auckland were continuing to work with a range of youth-focused agencies to address the issue, they could not do it alone.
“Police are doing everything we can, and we want the community to be safe, but ultimately parents and caregivers need to take responsibility too.
“We also ask that the public be vigilant in making sure their vehicles are secure so these offenders have less chance of stealing more vehicles. We regularly see people leaving their cars unlocked, with valuable items in them and even their keys in the ignition, which makes them an incredibly easy target. This is a community problem and we need everyone to take responsibility for their own vehicles, property and personal safety.
“Some of the victims in our community have also had their cars stolen several times. For victims, losing their vehicle in this way means some can’t get to work, pick up their kids from school, or get to medical appointments. The best way to stop it is through prevention and reporting any suspicious activity to police immediately,” says Inspector O’Brien.
“We know it is not always easy, but there are a number of agencies you can turn to if you need assistance with young people including, Salvation Army, Youthline, Iosis, the Soloman Group or Strive.”
This website is a complete directory for assistance with family services in New Zealand:
Issued by Shelley Nahr / Counties Manukau, Communications Manager
09 263 2702 / 021 595 562