6 Jan 2023

'If that car could talk, the stories it would tell' - Christchurch residents frustrated by thefts

8:59 pm on 6 January 2023
Police generic

Photo: RNZ / Richard Tindiller

Police are reporting a small drop in the number of car thefts in Ōtautahi-Christchurch, but that's little comfort to a Cashmere resident who woke to find her daughter's Mazda had been stolen on Thursday.

Provisional figures provided to RNZ show there were around 414 car thefts reported in the city in December.

That compares to 459 reports in October and 455 in November, where in one week alone the police received just over 150 reports of vehicles being stolen.

In early November, Canterbury Metro Area Commander Superintendent Lane Todd described this as a "significant increase" in thefts, mostly attributed to recent youth offending.

A police spokesperson said the number of vehicles reported stolen in December was down nearly 10 percent on October.

They said while it was "pleasing to see" that theft numbers appeared to be decreasing, the December figure was still provisional and could change once people returned from their Christmas breaks.

"If you are returning home from your holidays over the next few weeks and notice that your car has been stolen, please report it to police."

"It is concerning when any vehicle at all is stolen, and we know that this is incredibly frustrating for vehicle owners," they said.

The police spokesperson said they wanted to remind the public to be extra vigilant around securing their vehicles, ensuring all valuables were removed.

"If you are parking on the road, then please look at investing in a wheel lock. It is a cheap but effective way of helping to prevent your car being stolen."

Residents frustrated

On Thursday morning Cashmere resident Leah woke to find her daughter's Mazda Demio had been stolen from outside their house.

It was the second time the car had been targeted and Leah said unlike the first incident, when the thief had been interrupted and took off, this time they hadn't been so lucky.

She said her daughter's car was found yesterday morning abandoned in nearby suburb Opawa, with the engine still running.

Leah said it was incredibly frustrating that the car had been stolen for what she believed was simply a joyride.

"They've actually done some damage under the car. God knows what they've been doing to it, if that car could talk, the stories it would tell.

"Now my daughter's without a car, she's got to get to and from work, uni is going to start soon, so fingers crossed we can fix it, rather than write it off."

Leah said vehicle theft was causing disruption to residents' lives and they had now installed security cameras at their house.

"We went for a drive to see if we could find it [the car] and realized the guy just up the road, his ute had been smashed over.

"Pretty much they destroyed it because they couldn't get it going... they'd taken the ignition and tried to start it, couldn't get, so they just destroyed the car."

She said police did appear to be trying to tackle the problem, as they had arranged for her daughter's car to be towed for a forensic inspection.

"It's a rubbish thing to happen, but hopefully, they're going to start cracking down on it."

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