Arrests following `crime spree'

A group of Oamaru youths allegedly went on a ``crime spree'' over the weekend, at the same time police in Oamaru are working with a government agency to combat youth crime.

Two cars were stolen from separate Oamaru address on Saturday night with three of the five alleged offenders, aged between 15 and 16, apprehended early on Sunday morning.

Sergeant Tony Woodbridge, of Oamaru, said police received reports of suspicious behaviour near a silver vehicle in Ardgowan Rd about 3am on Sunday.

Inquiries led police to an address in Lark St where two vehicles, a Toyota Lucida people mover and silver Nissan Pulsar, both reported stolen on Saturday evening, were located.

When approached, two male youths (aged 15 and 16) who were in the Toyota attempted to flee police.

The 15-year-old, who appeared in the Dunedin Youth Court yesterday, was apprehended and charged with two counts of unlawfully taking a motor vehicle.

A 16-year-old male evaded police but had since been located and spoken to by officers.

Another two 16-year-old males, found in the Nissan, were also arrested and charged with two counts of unlawfully taking a motor vehicle.

They have been referred to youth aid.

A fourth male, also aged 16, was being sought by police.

It was believed the group was also responsible for the theft of two petrol cans and a metal chain from an Ardgowan Rd property on Saturday night, Sgt Woodbridge said.

He described the offending as a ``crime spree'' which took place over a short period of time.

Sgt Woodbridge said police were working closely with government agency Oranga Tamariki to combat levels of youth crime, which have increased.

Recent incidents included vehicles being tampered with at the Kiwirail yards in Humber St, speakers stolen from the Oamaru Blue Penguin Colony and several assaults at the Oamaru skate park.

When asked if the incidents were related, Sgt Woodbridge said police were ``keeping an open mind''.

He advised people to keep their vehicles locked at all times and report any suspicious behaviour to police.

 -  Daniel Birchfield


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