A month-long police sting on truants has seen 130 students
returned to class and a drop in shoplifting crimes in
Whangarei's central city.
Police cracked down on students plundering shops while
bunking school in Whangarei, where the truancy rate runs at
up to 7.5 times above the national average.
And while Operation Cleanstreets may have finished police are
vowing to keep a close eye on students wandering through the
city without a pass or reasonable explanation.
The first hour of the operation saw 12 students returned to
Officers were dogged in their approach with some running
across parks to nab students fleeing back towards their
school. The youngest student returned back to the classroom
The Whangarei police youth crime unit's Sergeant Dan Cleaver,
who headed the operation, said high school principals backed
the intensive blitz as some schools reported up to 30 per
cent of their students being truant per day.
"We did notice over the last week or so, a massive increase
in the number of passes. Which was the aim so we know and the
schools know where the kids are and what they are doing.
"The pressure will stay on. Kids can still expect to get
picked up if they are wandering the streets," Mr Cleaver
Five fashion stores in the CBD had been suffering a large
amount of stock being taken by thieves prior to the blitz.
During the operation, eight shoplifting offences were
reported to police from five businesses usually targeted by
Prior to that about five shoplifting offences a week from the
five businesses were recorded by police.
"We knew truanting was contributing to shoplifting."
He also said parents needed to take responsibility and know
where their children were.
"Some parents were horrified to find their kids were
As part of the operation, police were joined by members of
the community patrols, Maori Wardens and the Whangarei
District Council's CitySafe. Teams targeted spots where
students were known to congregate if not in class. That
included the railway tracks running parallel to sports fields
off Cross St, and around the central city.
With school holidays underway Mr Cleaver cautioned home
owners to be vigilant around home security and locking cars
and keeping valuable out of sight.
- By Kristin Edge of the Northern Advocate