Police urge public to be aware of crime
By MARY MANN firstname.lastname@example.org A GROWING number of Northern Rivers teenagers are stealing and setting fire to cars, prompting local police to call for help from the public.
The culprits, usually aged 14 to 18 years, in the past couple of months have been targeting cars in Coraki and Goonellabah.
Coraki, Ross Lane at Lennox Head and Midgen Flat Road near Newrybar are all common dumping grounds for stolen vehicles.
Richmond Local Area Command commander, Supt Bruce Lyons, said the growing trend was of concern to the community.
"Too many cars are being stolen in this area and we are targeting those responsible," he said. "A number of young people have been arrested for stealing cars of late, and I intend to keep the pressure on those responsible, which is the expectation of the community."
Police are currently seeking information on a stolen car which was burnt out in Grant Street, Ballina, about 1am on Boxing Day. A witness told The Northern Star that half an hour before the car had been 'screeching up and down Bentinck Street'.
Back in January, a vehicle was burnt out in the Ballina Fair shopping centre car park.
The South Australian-registered Holden sedan was engulfed by flames and fire crews had to get into the boot and bonnet to extinguish the fire completely.
Supt Lyons said most burnt-out cars were stolen vehicles which thieves had used before dumping and setting them alight, often in a bid to destroy evidence linking them to it.
However, police worked hard to catch those responsible, and usually recovered the cars for scientific examinations, he said.
Supt Lyons said locals and holidaymakers alike needed to be more vigilant with their vehicle security.
"A lot of people on holidays leave their cars unlocked, but it is not safe to do that," Supt Lyons said.
He urged people to consider installing car alarms or steering wheel locks.
Always lock your vehicle, even if parked in a driveway, and conceal all valuable items, he said.
According to the NRMA, a car is stolen almost every five minutes somewhere in Australia. Often they are taken for a joy ride, vandalised and then dumped.
If you notice someone acting suspiciously around a vehicle, or if you find a burnt-out car, contact your local police station or Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000. Write cutline Text: NS2803AA.TXT Image: NS2803AA
TOTAL LOSS: A file photo of a car that was burnt out last January at Ballina Fair.