Inspector Bruce O’Brien –
Counties Manukau Police are concerned at a rise in recent criminal activity by unsupervised young people, some as young as 10-years old.
Parents and caregivers need to take more responsibility and accountability for their care.
Three young people including a 16-year-old boy were involved in a fleeing driver incident on August 13, which could have easily resulted in tragedy and heartbreak for their families, and other innocent road users.
While we are doing our best to address these issues, we are becoming increasingly frustrated and concerned at the lack of accountability of some parents and caregivers of these young people who are being largely left to their own devices and are committing serious offences, which is placing the community, themselves and Police staff at risk.
Sadly, the fleeing driver incident highlights a recent concerning trend of young offenders having a total disregard for other people’s property, or the safety of other, law-abiding members of the community.
Driving at a high speed the down the wrong side of the busiest motorway in the country is a death wish, and it is only a matter of time before such selfish behaviour results in themselves or an innocent member of the public being killed or left scarred for life, leaving devastated families and whanau behind to pick up the pieces.
The Police responded at about 745pm after the driver of a vehicle reported as stolen failed to stop for Police in Manurewa.
A pursuit was initiated, but abandoned due to public safety concerns when the unlicensed forbidden 16-year-old male driver drove the car on the wrong side of the motorway in an effort to avoid Police.
The Eagle helicopter was then called into assist, and pursuit was re-engaged when it was considered safe to do.
Police apprehended the driver shortly after.
He appeared in the Manukau Youth Court on multiple charges along with two 16-year-old females who were arrested on August 14, 2015.
What these young people don’t appreciate is that these fleeing driver incidents are incredibly high risk for all involved – including the Police staff who respond to them. They are among the most challenging of all the incidents that Police responds to and face a very difficult balance in trying to stop these drivers safely while protecting other road users.
I therefore want to praise the actions of the staff involved in this incident for their professionalism and skill in managing an extremely dangerous and complex situation.
Unfortunately, it reflects an increasing trend Police are seeing across Auckland of young people stealing multiple vehicles, travelling in convoys and committing serious crimes, including ram raids on commercial premises, assaults and aggravated robberies.
There has been an increase in cars being stolen and broken into across Auckland, predominately by opportunistic youths, some as young as 10-years-old.
While Police across Auckland were continuing to work with a range of youth-focused agencies to address the issue, they could not do it alone. We want the community to be safe, but ultimately parents and caregivers need to take responsibility too.
We also ask that the public be vigilant in making sure their vehicles are secure so these offenders have less chance of stealing more vehicles.
We regularly see people leaving their cars unlocked, with valuable items in them and even their keys in the ignition, which makes them an incredibly easy target.
This is a community problem and we need everyone to take responsibility for their own vehicles, property and personal safety.
“Some of the victims in our community have also had their cars stolen several times.
For victims, losing their vehicle in this way means some can’t get to work, pick up their kids from school, or get to medical appointments.
The best way to stop it is through prevention and reporting any suspicious activity to police immediately. We know it is not always easy, but there are a number of agencies you can turn to if you need assistance with young people including ‘Salvation Army,’ ‘Youthline,’ ‘Iosis,’ ‘Soloman Group’ or Strive.
Inspector Bruce O’Brien is Central Area Prevention Manager at Counties Manukau District Police.