Spate of ram-raids driven by social media - police

Source: 1News

Police say social media is a key driving force behind the spike in ram raids across the country.

Detective Inspector Karen Bright told reporters on Wednesday that offenders as young as 11 years old were posting their exploits online.

"We know that some of these young people are posting their exploits on social media and that is driving some of the offending," she said.

“Obviously there’s a role that social media is playing in this... that is a real motivator of this offending."

READ MORE: Police investigating more ram-raid incidents in Auckland

She said Counties Manukau have dealt with 60 young offenders since the number of ram-raid thefts spiked in October.

"We have, in certain months, noticed an increase [in the Counties Manukau area]."

"[But] it's not an issue just in Auckland or in Counties Manukau – it’s across New Zealand."

She said police have been working alongside social media companies, but the collaboration is aimed at prevention not prosecuting those involved.

"With the ram raids themselves, we actually have a high rate of enforcement. These are not sophisticated crimes... we do identify a lot of these young people.

"So we're working with [social media companies] to actually address the content and the exposure these videos are getting, rather than to actually identify offenders."

She says the response from the platforms have been "very good" and "really receptive".

"All the social media companies we've engaged with have been really responsive to us."

However, Bright was careful to acknowledge that social media isn't the sole cause behind the spate of raids and future prevention will require a number of approaches.

"There's a raft of reasons why young people as young as 11 would be out in the middle of the night.

"This is something that is a bigger issue than just for the police to deal with. We need everyone to try to get these young people back on track.

"We need the support of partner agencies; parents need to know where their children are and take responsibility for them; and the wider whānau need to look out for children."

Bright added that there are "things car owners can do to make their cars a little bit more secure" and "retailers can take action [on] to make their premises less attractive".

"Certainly in recent days, we have seen incidences in which bollards have prevented a ram raid."

She called the recent ram-raid at Auckland's Ormiston Town Centre, which saw multiple cars travelling at high speed through the mall, "a tragedy waiting to happen."

"The footage is quite clear those cars are travelling through places where guards, cleaners and members of the public could be put at risk.

"There's a huge risk whenever a vehicle is involved in a crime... that's the reason we're so concerned about this."

Bright also acknowledged the huge impact these crimes can have on shop owners.

"This type of offending causes huge harm... the actual items stolen are well outweighed by the damage done to the businesses.

“For some retailers, it’s also their home.”