They’re tiny, but almost 100 per cent effective against thieves. Tauranga South Community Patrol’s initiative to get tamper-resistant screws onto vehicles in the Bay is hoped to thwart the thieves targeting licence plates.
“There’s been a huge spate of licence plate thefts,” says patrol leader Maureen Kathan. “They’re used by the criminals who are doing petrol station drive-offs. The incidents of those are increasing as the price of petrol rises. There are numerous petrol station drive-offs every week all over Tauranga.”
The stolen plates are also used in ram raids so the vehicle used in such an act cannot be traced by CCTV footage.
“It’s prolific at the moment,” says Maureen. “Plates are stolen from shopping centre carparks by a thief who simply bends over as if picking something up off the ground. It takes about 30 seconds for them to take off a plate and stuff it under their jumper.
Maureen says other easy targets are cars parked outside on grass berms or in driveways overnight.
“The car owner often doesn’t even realise their plates are missing until Police knock on their door asking about a crime that’s been committed. It’s a regular thing happening daily.”
Vehicle owners are being invited to have tamper-resistant screws added to each licence plate at an event at Tauranga Crossing shopping centre’s lower carpark this Saturday, June 11 from 10am-2pm.
“It’s a simple process that will take minutes to attach the screw front and back. The screw has a special head so you need a certain set of screwdrivers to remove it.
“The idea is that thieves don’t bother carrying multiple tools with them so won’t get the plate off easily. “We’ve had people return with their licence plate hanging half off after being targeted by thieves who couldn’t remove the plate. It’s not 100 per cent, but it will make it harder for criminals.”
The Tauranga South Community Patrol is asking for a gold coin donation in exchange for the tamper-resistant screw being attached.
“We’re using this as a fundraiser to cover costs for ongoing training and to keep our patrol on the road,” says Maureen. “We have a group of volunteers who cover a huge area and are out day and night on a regular basis. If you are community-minded and wish to make a difference, please come along.”
The Tamper Resistant Screw event is at Tauranga Crossing, The Lakes, on Saturday June 11 from 10am - 2pm.
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