Car theft numbers alarming

Two-pronged approach on youth crime





Police figures published by RNZ last week on the number of cars stolen around Ka¯ piti was gobsmacking. A total of 290 in February, 310 in March, and another 240 up to April 20. It comes amid national attention on youth-related crime using stolen cars, especially the bizarre and dramatic ram-raiding of shops and theft of goods. The knee-jerk reaction in Ka¯ piti is that all these car thefts were by young people. The police data, as published by RNZ, does not give this information so it’s only an assumption. More alarming was these figures followed police catching six youngsters in Waikanae attempting to steal cars. Two were 12 and two were 13. It included a 14 and a 15-year-old. One can understand the alarm that Kapiti could be on the verge of copycat ram raids. It’s been widely noted the use of social media app TikTok was fuelling this spread. The fact Ministry of Justice data shows a more-than-60 per cent reduction of youth crime over the past decade has not dampened this public alarm. I first heard of the use of TikTok by youth stealing cars to show off their exploits from the police late last year. In recent months, my office has been alerted about an increase in boy-racer activity in Ka¯ piti. I have written about this problem. Now the police figures have revealed the huge numbers of stolen cars, and the possibility of young people being significantly involved, it may be useful to review this. Boy racers are largely a carowning culture. It’s highly likely the kids stealing cars are going on highspeed joyrides and are being mistaken as boy racers. I have also seen tyre-burn marks on stretches of the Ka¯ piti Expressway. It’s also possible such dangerous behaviour could escalate to ram raids. The police have rightly recognised the underlying socioeconomic problems cannot be managed solely via police solutions. They have rightly advocated a wrap-around approach involving other relevant government agencies and community providers. The nature of the problem, especially given the very young age of those involved, requires a two-prong approach: a policing approach to tackle the immediate danger and a second strategic, long-term approach to help identify and manage the socioeconomic factors fuelling this. Ka¯ pi-Mana police have expressed support for this approach. On a related matter, I was at a ceremony at the Gazley car yard in Rimu Rd on April 28 to unveil a new car for the Waikanae Community Patrol. I take the opportunity to thank the businesses that have supported the project and the volunteers who staff this community service to be the eyes and ears of the police. In speaking at the ceremony, I noted that during these challenging times where we are facing the uncertainties of the pandemic, the existential threat of climate change, and now the impact of the war in Ukraine, there is a greater need for a personal sense of safety and security. The presence of the police and the sight of the three community patrols in Ka¯ piti help secure this, especially among our significant senior and more-vulnerable residents.