Sunday, February 25, 2024

Police won’t investigate road rage incident due to pandemic

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East Auckland man John van der Hoven’s car was attacked in a road rage incident that police said did not reach the threshold for investigation. Times photo Chris Harrowell

Police told the east Auckland owner of a car damaged in a road rage attack they were too busy to investigate the incident due to their commitments with the Covid-19 pandemic.

Somerville man John van der Hoven was driving his Honda vehicle on November 22 last year with his teenage daughter in the car when the incident unfolded.

The pair were heading south in the left-hand lane of the Southern Motorway away from the CBD behind another motorist who was doing about 70km/h.

Van der Hoven says he made a gesture to indicate the driver in front should speed up.

“I then took the off-ramp toward the South Eastern Highway.

“When he saw me take the left-hand turn he immediately moved over and went down to 60km/h.”

Van der Hoven says he drove past the other driver and raised both arms at him in a gesture to ask why he’d slowed down.

Both vehicles then arrived at the intersection with Carbine Road.

Van der Hoven’s car was in the middle lane going straight ahead and the other driver pulled up beside them to the left.

“My daughter saw him stop beside our car and she immediately wound her window up,” he says.

The other driver got out of his vehicle and approached van der Hoven’s vehicle.

“He started screaming,” he says.

“We couldn’t hear what he was screaming but it was obviously swear words of some kind.

“I could see him coming and we couldn’t move as there were cars in front of us.

“He proceeded to kick my wing mirror out.

“I think he hit the window and then kicked the mirror.

“Then he got into his car and sped off.”

Van der Hoven says his daughter was upset by the incident and was “almost in tears”.

He says several motorists who saw what happened gave him their contact details and the registration plate number of the attacker’s vehicle.

“I couldn’t understand why saying ‘hurry up’ and raising my arms warranted this type of action.

“I didn’t do rude hand gestures, I didn’t shout at him, I didn’t tailgate him.

“I went past him so maybe he took offence to that.”

Van der Hoven made a report to police about the incident via its crime reporting line and passed on the registration plate number of the attacker’s vehicle and the contact details of his eyewitnesses.

About a week later he received a letter from a sergeant at the Glen Innes police station.

It says the complaint has been assessed, but due to “current investigative and operational commitments it has not received investigation priority”.

“We prioritise our investigations according to the seriousness of the offence and ongoing risk to victims,” the letter says.

“Unfortunately, your file does not meet our threshold for investigation.”

Van der Hoven says the letter “really, really pissed me off”.

“I was so disappointed. You feel powerless. I phoned the police and said, ‘really?’.”

A police spokesperson says officers made initial inquiries to find out if CCTV footage was available of the incident, but none was.

“We acknowledge the complainant provided possible lines of inquiry to police.

“Due to a wide range of operational commitments to the Covid-19 outbreak, including policing borders, MIQ and providing visible policing, police were not able to commit the resources required to investigate this matter.

“We acknowledge this is disappointing for the complainant and we have explained our reasoning for not being able to investigate this incident further.”

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