A week of destruction from stolen cars being set alight shows no signs of abating, as police urge locals to lock their cars.
Fire fighters have spent five of the last seven mornings putting out cars that had been stolen, taken for a joy ride and then set alight.
The first was last Monday, when a car stolen from Christchurch was found burning on Sovereign St, near Guppy Park.
The latest was exactly a week later when a car was found burnt out in Appleby.
On Tuesday and Wednesday three cars were found abandoned; on Central Rd, deep in the Maitai Valley, in a forestry block on Fireball Rd up the Tantragee.
Nelson Fire Service officer Craig Davies two cars smashed through some “quite substantial” forestry gates before being ditched and set alight.
The owner of the car left on Fireball Rd, which still had children’s car seats strapped into the back seat, arrived at the scene as they worked to put his car out.
“He had seen it on Facebook and came up, he was pretty pissed off,” says Craig.
Law breaking was taken to another level on Thursday morning when a group of four males added a ram-raid to their list of felonies.
The stolen red Mazda was used as a battering ram at Big Barrel Liquor Store in Gloucester St, around 4am.
The four males managed to push the door open enough to steal several boxes of beer before setting the car alight on Quebec Rd in Washington Valley, sometime after 6am.
Craig says they attended the latest fire just before 7am.
“This isn’t a good situation, people’s cars are getting stolen and torched, and looking at the skid marks around the place they are pretty lethal people.”
Big Barrel owner Ranbir Singh says he feels sorry for the young men who broke into his store.
“They are ruining their lives, after they get caught, how will they live a respectable life, no good company will hire them and they’ll have this over their head the rest of their lives.”
Ranbir says he doesn’t think the group will slow down anytime soon. “They did it to my shop but they won’t stop until you catch them. If they start thinking nobody can catch them they won’t stop, and who knows what will happen?
“What if somebody gets killed or seriously injured, hopefully the police move fast so it doesn’t happen again with even bigger consequences.”
Nelson response sergeant Kyle Bruning says the biggest inconvenience is to the owners of the cars who have to deal with claims and are left for a significant period without a vehicle.
“While we’re having to investigate these each night, it’s worse for the poor victims waking up in the morning and wanting to jump in their car and drive to work only to find that it’s not there and that it’s been burnt out somewhere.”
He says the investigation into the thefts is ongoing. “It’s an active investigation, we’re after help from the public to be vigilant and help us catch these people.”
No arrests have been made, if anyone has information they should contact police on 546 3840.