Social media plays role in tracing stolen vehicle

A man who allegedly stole a late-model four-wheel-drive vehicle  from outside an Oamaru business at the weekend has been arrested with a little help from social media.

About 11.45am on Sunday police received a report that a silver 2016 Ford Everest had been stolen from outside Oamaru Pharmacy in Thames St.

The vehicle was later seen at the South Hill BP station, where its driver filled it with about $60 worth of diesel before driving south without paying.

Images of the vehicle and still images from the petrol station’s security cameras were circulated on social media, including the Southern District Police Facebook page.

As a result, a 31-year-old Christchurch man living near Gore, was arrested on Monday after members of the public spotted the vehicle on State Highway 1 between Gore and Waipahi and alerted police.

Police then conducted a search of the man’s property, during which an item that had been stolen from the vehicle was recovered.

The man, who is in police custody, will appear in the Gore District Court on November 29 on 19 charges.

Sergeant Tony Woodbridge, of Oamaru, said some of the charges were related to the theft of the vehicle and  three related to petrol drive-offs between Oamaru and Gore.

The man also faced a charge of driving while disqualified.

Sergeant Tony Woodbridge, of Oamaru, said social media was a "powerful crime-fighting tool" and played a huge part in the offender being located.

He said people who stole vehicles were "stupid", as more often than not images and descriptions of the vehicles ended up doing the rounds on various social media platforms, which made it easier for them to be located quickly. 

- Daniel Birchfield

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