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Targeting trade of stolen possessions

• Howick and Pakuranga Times

LOOK OUT: Police inspector Jim Searle, right, is spearheading a campaign to get people to stop buying stolen property with support from East Auckland businesspeople, from left, Aaron Yap, Simon Woodward and Greg Mitchell. Times photo Wayne Martin.

BAR patrons enjoying a cold drink after a hard day at the office may soon find it difficult to ignore the message buying stolen property is wrong.

A new Counties Manukau Police campaign, with support from businesses, aims to stop people making a purchase they suspect may be immoral.

Inspector Jim Searle, area commander for Counties Manukau East Police, is in charge of efforts in East and South Auckland.

He approached the Greater East Tamaki Business Association (GETBA) to see if any of its members would support the initiative.

Among those keen to get involved are Simon Woodward, managing director of Flat Bush company Geotek Services, as well as MGE Engineering director Greg Mitchell, and Aaron Yap of A Plus Print and Banner, who both work in East Tamaki.

They’re financing the production of leaflets, coasters and fridge magnets containing the clear message it’s wrong to take advantage of the victims of crime.

“We hope to get the coasters into pubs, bars and restaurants in a week or two,” Mr Searle says. “We want them where they can be easily read when people are relaxing, and the leaflets will be distributed in a more targeted way than the Counties Manukau Police District initiative.”

Mr Mitchell says the decision to support the campaign was an easy one to make. “There’s a big push to bring down crime, so we thought we’d better make a contribution to that effort,” he told the Times.

“We want to support the police and their work – they’re doing a good job.”

Running alongside the project is a nationwide campaign to promote the anonymous tip-off phone line Crimestoppers, and the Snap.org.nz website, which allows people to register serial numbers of electronic items. It makes it easier for police to find owners of stolen property when it’s recovered.

Mr Searle wants the public to be aware of the two resources, and the risk of agreeing to buy stolen property, which is sometimes offered for sale in bars and clubs.

He plans to have police officers speak to school students about the campaign’s message, and have large posters put up inside licensed premises.

“If people stopped buying stolen property the reduction in crime would be substantial,” he says.

“Most career criminals steal things to sell for money.

“They might steal the first TV or laptop computer because they want it, but the ones after that will be sold to potentially get money for drugs.

“We want to make the public aware of the damage caused by buying stolen property.

“If the seller wants to meet in a place out of the way, or has an item in the back of their car, those are signs [it may have been stolen].

“It’s concerning most people think stealing is a crime, but assume receiving stolen property is not.”

Mr Searle’s next goal is to get campaign material translated into Mandarin. People who want to help with that effort can phone him on 261-1300.

To report any illegal activity, phone Crimestoppers on 0800-555-111, or visit www.crimestoppers-nz.org.

•  People convicted of receiving stolen property can be imprisoned for up to seven years if the value of the property exceeds $1000, up to 12 months if the value is between $500-$1000, or up to three months if the property is worth less than $500.


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