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Waitemata - major operation targeting volume crime

Waitemata Police launch major operation targeting volume crime
Thursday, 20 February 2014 - 2:47pm

A major operation targeting crimes such as burglary, shoplifting, theft from cars & petrol drive-offs is underway across the Waitematä Police District.

Operation Vapour aims to stop "volume" crimes, which traditionally increase during the month of March.

Volume crimes are offences such as shoplifting, theft from cars, stealing cars, burglaries and petrol drive-offs.

There's no evidence to explain exactly why volume crime increases during March, but it's hoped Operation Vapour will prevent further crime and break the tradition.

Inspector Claire Humble, Head of Operation Vapour, says Police are using a variety of crime-fighting tactics to target burglars, including checkpoints at motorway off-ramps that have been identified as exits often used by recidivist offenders.

"Without giving too much away, we can say that burglary is one of the offences we're focussing on and we'll be using forensic data to help us" says Inspector Humble.

Operation Vapour will also target petrol drive-offs, an offence that Police describe as a "crime enabler."

"The crime often begins when criminals steal a number plate from another car, put it on their own car, fill up at the pump and then drive off without paying. They then have a full tank of petrol in their car to drive right across the greater Auckland area to commit more crime, such as stealing cars" says Inspector Humble.

The average amount of fuel stolen in a petrol drive-off is $100 worth and whilst some people return to the petrol station within a few weeks and pay for the fuel, a large number do not. Police are working with petrol station owners and fuel companies in a bid to prevent further drive-off offences.

Vans equipped with Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) technology will be used throughout Operation Vapour to target vehicles being used by recidivist drive-off offenders and volume crime offenders. The technology used in the vans alerts Police to any "vehicles of interest", including stolen cars, cars that are registered to people wanted in connection with other offending and stolen number plates that are often used by recidivist drive-off offenders.

"The vans will alert us if a vehicle has been reported as stolen, or the number plate has been involved in offending such as burglaries or petrol drive offs" says Inspector Humble.

Shoplifters will also be targeted with a high-visibility Police presence in local shopping malls. Police are working with security companies at high-risk shopping areas to help staff recognise common behaviours, trends and repeat offenders, and ways to prevent shoplifting from occurring.

Maori, Pacific and Ethnic volunteer wardens are also part of Operation Vapour, and will perform foot patrols in crime hotspots, reporting any concerns they identify to Police. A Police caravan will also be parked in high-risk shopping and recreation areas.


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