Car burglars plague capital
By EMILY WATT - The Dominion Post | Wednesday, 23 May 2007

Thefts from cars in Wellington have reached epidemic proportions, with an average of 10 cars targeted in the city every day.

In the past week alone 88 break-ins were reported and Detective Senior Sergeant Warwick McKee said some motorists were unwittingly encouraging thieves by leaving items in their cars in clear view.

"Theft from vehicles is an opportunistic crime," he said.

"Thieves only target cars that have got property that's visible inside."

The Dominion Post accompanied police as they surveyed cars parked in the city yesterday afternoon and discovered a diverse collection of items left in cars in full view of potential thieves.

In a car park by Queens Wharf, a Toyota had three cases of wine in the boot and a new vacuum cleaner, still in its box, on the back seat. Many other vehicles had backpacks and bags in clear view.

Mr McKee pointed to a car with shopping bags in the front seat. "Something like this, they'd just be curious enough to say, `What have we got here?'," he said. "But it could have been taken out and put in the boot."

In Hay St, Oriental Bay, one car had a bicycle in the back and a shoulder bag on the front seat. Another had a suitcase and a box filled with toiletries, including fake fingernails, in the back, and folders and books in the front seat.

In Grafton Rd, in Roseneath, several cars had sports gear and in Ariki Rd, a hot spot for car break-ins, one had a computer printer and a skateboard in the back seat.

"Somebody would steal that," Mr McKee said. "They wouldn't hesitate to smash a window and cause $200 damage to take a $20 skateboard."

Wellington has some of New Zealand's highest rates of thefts from cars, and Mr McKee said the city's geography encouraged thieves, with many cars parked on the street.

"It's not unusual for (a single offender) to come in one night and do a series of 30 cars all over Wellington in one night," he said.

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