Taranaki police have arrested seven teenagers believed to be involved in a raft of crimes across the region over several months.
Seven teens aged between 13 and 17 years old are understood to have had a role in a series of unlawful takings, assaults, thefts and multiple driving offences.
South Taranaki response manager acting Senior Sergeant Andrew Russ said a stolen Toyota was seen by an off-duty officer heading south from New Plymouth on Friday morning near Inglewood, where they reported it to police communications.
At about 7am a police vehicle located the Toyota where the driver attempted to ram the police car, though police didn’t pursue the stolen vehicle Snr Sgt Russ said cordons were put in place and road spokes were deployed nearby.
“While police were driving to cordon points to lay spikes, another vehicle, a Mazda, began fleeing from police.”
At that point, the Mazda had not been reported stolen to police but was found to be in convoy with the Toyota.
Snr Sgt Russ said police didn’t pursue the Mazda either, instead widening their cordons.
“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 police staff on foot the three teenagers were found and arrested.
An hour later the Toyota was spotted again by police but this time in Stratford.
“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.”
Although the Toyota’s wheels had been spiked, Snr Sgt Russ said the two youths inside continued to drive on Opunake Rd until the wheels disintegrated.
“They then abandoned the car and fled on foot across farmland before being arrested by police.”
Snr Sgt Russ said all seven teens have been referred to youth services.
He added the large group of youths are understood to be involved in similar offending in South Taranaki over the past few months.
Snr Sgt Russ said while the arrests are positive, he’s aware “they are cold comfort” to the victims who 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,” Snr Sgt Russ said.
“However, Police cannot be everywhere at once and we cannot deter opportunistic thieves on our own.”
He urged the community to contact police if they have any information about ongoing offending and encouraged parents or families of the offenders to reach out to police to work through possible solutions.
“These stolen vehicles are often used for joyriding,” he said.
“This raises serious concerns for the safety of the drivers, their passengers, and the public.”
Police’s advice to keep your vehicle 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.