NZ Herald 05/04.2012
Police reveal city hot spots for car break ins. AÂ car a week is being stolen from the Westfield St Lukes car park, while every other day, a car is broken into around Albert Park.
Police this week released figures for crime hot spots around Auckland, showing several popular areas being targeted by thieves.
The city is facing increasing crime - up to 300 thefts of and from cars every week, a rate of 15,000 a year - even as the crime rate has declined in the rest of the country.
Sylvia Park, Auckland City Hospital, the Mt Eden summit and Auckland Domain, as well as St Lukes and Albert Park, are popular targets.
Auckland district commander Superintendent Mike Clement, who began in the role this year, said property crimes such as theft had been made a key focus for the city's police.
"I think people would be generally surprised - if you park in the St Lukes car park, people think they'll be safe. But the reality is that's how criminals think," he said.
"There's no question that criminals come into the city because there's rich pickings."
The public - including about 100,000 daily commuters and 50,000 revellers out on a busy night - needed to be aware of the crime in the city and take precautions, Mr Clement said.
Police officers were working with the owners of car parks to increase security, the commander said.
But the thefts from public spaces around Albert Park would be more challenging to address.
More police patrols could only be a temporary solution, he said.
Working with the community and council to create community patrols, better lighting and greater vigilance in the area were long-term options.
People also needed to avoid becoming easy targets - particularly by leaving valuables visible in their cars.
"That's really infuriating. It annoys them and annoys us to find they've lost their dearest possessions," Mr Clement said.
Many people realised the risk only after they had something stolen, he said.
Thieves have been difficult to catch after the crime - only 12 per cent of cases were resolved last year.
But Mr Clement said police would focus on known criminal groups, the on-selling of loot and tracking thieves from the scene.
"Every criminal like that leaves a track so we do our best to identify fingerprints and DNA," he said.
"To be quite frank, I've changed the focus on to property crime and we've already seen a difference."
Overseas tourists travelling independently around New Zealand and keeping all their possessions in their vans posed a particular problem.
Several cases of backpackers losing everything - their clothes, passports and money - have been featured in the Herald this year.
"The reality is they're vulnerable," Mr Clement said.
Even tourist buses had been targeted a couple of times this year. But tour bus operators could solve such situations. With independent travellers, preventing theft could come down to taking enough precautions, he said.
Westfield St Lukes general manager Linda Trainer said the mall was working with police to combat crime in the area and had been able to reduce incidents at the carpark.
"This may be attributed to the on-going education of those using the car park to remind them to lock their vehicles, and increased security presence in area," Ms Trainer said.
The carpark had CCTV monitoring and on-site security guards patrolling in a buggy.