Battery thefts linked to 'P'

Truck batteries are in hot demand among Whangarei thieves, with eight stolen in one raid over the weekend.

The batteries are likely being sold for scrap or their acid used to make methamphetamine.

Whangarei police Sergeant Paul Nicholas said truck batteries had been a target for thieves in recent months, and the situation came to a head on Saturday night when eight were stolen from trucks at a Port Rd business.

Given the size and weight of the batteries the thieves would have needed a vehicle to transport them away.

Mr Nicholas said truck batteries were relatively expensive and it was believed they were being sold for scrap due to the lead they contained.

However, a Whangarei truck battery salesman, who did not want to be identified, said the acid from the batteries was also an ingredient used in some recipes to cook P (methamphetamine).

"A new truck battery can cost between $320 to $350 a go, while they can be sold for scrap for about $25 to $35 each, mainly for the lead. They are most likely being sold for scrap as most truck drivers wouldn't want to buy a second-hand battery.

"But the battery acid can also be used to make methamphetamine."

The salesman said he no longer displayed batteries outside his store for fear of them being stolen.

"A few years ago we had a pallet of truck batteries out the back of the store inside a locked, secure cage. We left them there at 4pm and the next morning they had cut the cage open and nicked the whole lot.

"It's not an easy task as they are pretty heavy and a pallet of batteries can weigh about 900kg, but they took the lot, several thousand dollars worth," he said.

He was also aware of batteries being stolen from contractors' vehicles that had been left on sites overnight.

Mr Nicholas said anybody offered a cheap battery, who knew anything about the thefts, or who saw any suspicious activity around parked trucks should ring the Whangarei police on 09 4304500 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.

- By Mike Dinsdale of the Northern Advocate

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