Vehicle break-ins on the rise in Christchurch

Photo: Star News
Photo: Star News
Car break-in records seem to be shattering in Christchurch as glass repair specialists deal with an influx of smashed quarter windows, a popular mode of access for thieves.

A Smith & Smith branch in the city estimated they were replacing up to 10 of the small rear widows a day, provided stock was available.

A photographer at The Star recently had his Toyota Corolla targeted at Victoria Park.

Thieves used a hammer-like implement to smash the window and steal a backpack containing a wallet around 11.25am on a Tuesday.

A credit card was used twice to purchase vape products in Sydenham and Linwood at noon and 12.22pm before the card was deactivated.

Photo: Star News
Photo: Star News
Car break-ins are common in the area, with Christchurch City Council installing security camera on park buildings. Warning signs for motorists have also been posted.

The incident was far from isolated say glass repair businesses.

A Novus Glass branch staff member said: "This is just one shop but I can tell you in May we did over double the amount of smash repairs (to door windows) from last year (May).

"It does sort of seem like a crime wave. I’m trying to deal with one of the broken glasses at the moment."

The time required to replace the glass depended on the make and model.

"If they’re oddball cars, some of them take a little bit longer."

Photo: Star News
Photo: Star News
Autoglass Specialists also reported a busier workload replacing quarter windows over the last two months, with Opawa often cropping up as a location.

"We’ve definitely noticed it. There’s heaps of Mazda Demios getting broken into,” the spokesman said.

"There’s been stolen cars and cars just broken into where nothing’s been taken ... general vandalism.

"It sort of started happening all of a sudden in the last month or two.

"We do get runs of them, two or three people calling in a day with the same story.

"There is a pattern of smaller cars getting the back quarter window broken. They’re not even taking the car, something they’re not taking anything."

The Victoria Park parking area. Photo: Star News
The Victoria Park parking area. Photo: Star News
Police were unable to provide accurate figures for car break-ins in Christchurch, saying a request for data would need to be an Official Information Act request. Police then have up to 20 working days to provide the data.

Targeting the Mazda Demio is not unusual, the model takes the dubious honour of being New Zealand’s most stolen car, with Canterbury trailing only Auckland for vehicle theft claims handled by major insurer, AMI.

Of the 12,000 claims received by AMI between 2019 and 2021, the Demio accounted for 10 per cent in spite of making up just 1.5 per cent of the country’s fleet.

While thefts do not make up a significant percentage of insurance claims handled by AA Insurance compared to vehicle collisions, AA Insurance head of motor claims Beau Paparoa said they are rising.

"Over the past year we have seen an increase in the total number of our customers affected by vehicle thefts and break-ins.

"It’s fairly normal for theft to make up just under 1 per cent of vehicle insurance claims we receive, but that has increased to a monthly average of 1.4 per cent year to date,” he said, before urging motorists to take precautions.

"A lot of vehicle break-ins and thefts are opportunist.

"Taking steps to make your vehicle a less attractive target by keeping any valuables out of sight, having an alarm and being aware of the environment you are parked in are key to preventing thefts in the first place.”

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