Please attribute to South Taranaki Response Manager Acting Senior Sergeant Andrew Russ:
Taranaki police have arrested seven juveniles, aged between 13 and 17-years-old who are believed to have had a role in a series of unlawful takings, assaults, thefts, and multiple driving offences in Stratford.
A stolen Toyota motor vehicle was sighted by an off-duty police officer heading south from New Plymouth on Friday morning (19 May) near Inglewood. The officer called Police communications to report it.
At about 7am a marked police patrol located the Toyota vehicle, but the driver tried to ram the patrol car.
Police did not pursue it but put in place cordons and deployed road spikes nearby.
While police were driving to cordon points to lay spikes, another vehicle, a Mazda, began fleeing from Police.
This vehicle had not yet been reported stolen but was discovered to be in convoy with the initial stolen Toyota vehicle.
Police did not pursue this Mazda vehicle either opting to put wider cordons in place.
A short time later a member of the public reported a suspicious vehicle had been dumped in Eltham and saw three people running from the vehicle.
With the assistance of a staff on foot, the three were successfully located and arrested.
About an hour later the Toyota was spotted in Stratford by Police.
Two youths got out and walked away from the vehicle and were arrested. The two remaining in the car continued driving out of Stratford taking rural roads and were spiked near Cardiff.
They continued driving on Opunake Road until the wheels disintegrated. They then abandoned the car and fled on foot across farmland before being arrested by Police.
All seven have been referred to youth services.
This large group of youths are believed to be involved in similar offending in South Taranaki over the past few months.
While resolutions like this are positive, we know they are cold comfort to the people who have been targeted and have lost their vehicles or property or have been assaulted.
Police and Victim Support will be providing ongoing support to the victims of this offending and Police are committed to identifying and apprehending those responsible.
However, Police cannot be everywhere at once and we cannot deter opportunistic thieves on our own.
We urge the community to make contact if they have any information about this ongoing offending and encourage parents or families of those involved to reach out to Police to work through possible solutions.
These stolen vehicles are often used for joyriding.
This raises serious concerns for the safety of the drivers, their passengers, and the public.
Police are seeking the help of vehicle owners to make their vehicles less attractive to thieves.
We reiterate that people should take the following preventative measures to help keep their vehicles safe:
• Ensure the vehicle is locked and parked off the road, out of sight, or in secure car parking where possible
• Consider a vehicle alarm or vehicle immobiliser
• Purchase a steering wheel lock
In addition, please ensure valuables and credit cards are removed from vehicles, particularly if cars are parked in the open.
Anyone that sees suspicious activity around vehicles should call Police on 111 if it’s happening now, or 105 after the fact.
Issued by the Police Media Centre