FIVE cars stolen, three homes broken into, two cars burnt out, one police pursuit and a missing dog.
Tamworth police are hunting a group of youths they believe are responsible for a Monday-night crime spree across the city.
“They’re pretty brazen,” South Tamworth pensioner Alison Thomas, who first heard her car was stolen when she received a knock on the door at 4.30am on Tuesday by police, said.
Ms Thomas later found the offenders had gained entry through the downstairs windows of her Arinya St home between 11pm to 4am, just a few metres from where she was watching television.
Taking her handbag from the dining room table, and keys and a wallet belonging to a male boarder, the offenders stole Ms Thomas’s Toyota Corolla and a ute belonging to the boarder.
The wallet and handbag were later found abandoned in the front yard of the home.
Her car was later found alight in Centenary Park, along with another vehicle stolen from a home in Wallamore Rd during the same timeframe.
Police said the thieves had gained entry via a front window and stolen the keys to a Ford Falcon parked at the home.
The vehicle was then taken to the Coledale park and set alight about 4am.
A silver Subaru, stolen in similar circumstances from a home in Karenvar Ave, Calala, between 9pm and 1am the same night, has not been found, nor has the ute stolen from Arinya St.
Police said the group first came to the attention of officers just after 3am when a Queensland-registered Mitsubishi Lancer was seen to be driving erratically on Duri Rd in South Tamworth.
The vehicle was being followed by the Ford and Corolla, which had not yet been reported stolen.
Police followed the Lancer for several kilometres before commencing a pursuit, which ended shortly afterwards when the driver of the vehicle lost control at the corner of Phillip and Kent streets, with the vehicle coming to a stop on the side of the road.
Two youths ran from the vehicle and were pursued by police on foot for several minutes but managed to evade officers in the grounds of South Tamworth Public School.
Oxley LAC Sergeant Josh McKenzie said police believed the Lancer was also stolen but had been unable to locate its owners.
Sergeant McKenzie said it was possible the youths had used stolen cars to travel from one crime to the next.
He said police were examining forensic evidence at the various crime scenes and were yesterday conducting numerous investigations.
Sergeant McKenzie said he did not believe the incidents were linked to the group of youths police were hunting over a series of crimes in Coledale last week.
Oxley LAC crime prevention officer Tracey Freeman said it was a timely reminder to Tamworth residents to be mindful of their home’s security before going to bed.
“Lock all your doors and windows, and make sure all valuables, such as mobile phones, wallets and keys, are out of sight and in a location known only to you,” Senior Constable Freeman said.
“An unusual place where thieves may not think to look could help stop your items going missing.”
Senior Constable Freeman said it was relatively inexpensive to buy locks from hardware stores.
She reminded people to only install locks with the appropriate Australian standard.
“The point is to make it harder and less attractive for them to get in,” she said.
She said thieves would go for homes that were easy targets first.
“If one’s locked up and the house next door has the windows open, who are they going to choose?” Senior Constable Freeman said.
It’s cold comfort for Ms Thomas, who said the thieves snapped off her window’s locks to gain entry to her home.
The 66-year-old pensioner, who takes in boarders to help her financially, said she was “p---ed right off” about the crime.
“I can’t afford it. I’ve had to change the front door locks, and I’ve lost my car,” she said.
Her dog, Hanna, also went missing during the incident, but neighbours returned the animal the following day.
“They threw her over the fence – for what reason I don’t know, maybe to stop her barking,” Ms Thomas said.
“I thought they’d done something with her.”
She said forensic police had told her to insert dowel rods into the window sills, to help prevent entry again, but that it was the second time in three years she had been a victim of a break-in.
In 2009 her handbag was stolen from her bedroom and she awoke to find the offender there.
Still, she said Monday night’s thieves were “game” to target her home while she had two strapping male boarders inside.
“If they had have got hold of them, I think they’d be out the window. I hope they get caught,” she said.