BOYS with a need for speed, some thought to be only in their early teens, are the suspects behind 13 motor vehicle thefts in Tamworth in the past week.
Added to the spate of thefts – averaging two a night – the youths are luring police on dangerous night-time high-speed pursuits.
The majority of the 13 thefts have occurred in the South Tamworth area, the joyriders breaking into homes and stealing car keys to satisfy their appetite for dangerous driving.
A Tamworth security patrol guard says late-night joyrides had become a habit for some young boys.
“There’s no doubt that this is getting out of hand,” he said.
“These kids are wandering the streets until they find something.
“They’re breaking into houses and doing it just to steal those cars.
“They wreck them or burn them out or just dump them when they’re finished.”
The guard said he’d nearly been hit by one car careering around suburban streets during the week. On Sunday night, he came across one car doing burnouts around the Robert Street, South Tamworth, roundabout.
But he says police are being hampered because the kids are going to ground once they know they’ve been reported.
“People need to know what’s going on, because the public needs to be aware that this is happening,” he said.
“A lot of the time, homeowners don’t even know their cars have been stolen until they get a knock on the door from police. So they need to make it harder for these things to happen.”
Three cars were stolen in two break-ins in South Tamworth yesterday morning.
A young driver with a group of teens on board led police on a dangerous pursuit through the city’s streets. Officers ended the pursuit because of the risk of a serious crash.
Inspector Phil O’Reilly, Tamworth Police’s crime manager, said officers had stepped up patrols across the city from last night, with some officers rostered on to specifically target break-in offences.
Inspector O’Reilly said police had made the problem a top priority but they needed the public’s co-operation in identifying suspects and preventing further break-ins.
He said that, in at least two break-ins during the past week, residents had left their cars unlocked with the keys inside.
“I hope it (the complacency) is just isolated but this provides an opportunity for thieves,” he said.
“If we eliminate the opportunity then it might have some effect on reducing the crime level.
“Residents should take extra precautions by ensuring their vehicles are secured in their homes and their keys are not left in the open. Just don’t leave them lying around.”
Inspector O’Reilly is pointing the finger at groups of youths he says are engaged in street racing.
“It’s a dangerous activity engaging the police to pursue them,” he said.
“Their activities are not only endangering themselves but their passengers and also other community members.”
Police are studying the thefts’ locations, conducting forensic analysis and recovering the vehicles quickly in their bid to identify the thieves, Inspector O’Reilly said.