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Auckland crime trend: Police warn motorists of shopping mall bag thieves

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Police are recently investigating a series of bag snatch thefts, particularly in the Botany and Papatoetoe regions. Video / New Zealand Police

The thieves use a terrifying tactic to snatch bags from unsuspecting shoppers – and it was captured on CCTV.

Manukau County Police are warning thieves are preventing parked cars from leaving their parking lots, before opening passenger doors and grabbing handbags from the front seat.

Botany and Papatoetoe have been the hardest hit by the crime spree, said Sgt Nicolas Jensen.

“The method by which these crooks offend, they will park their vehicle behind yours. The passenger will get out of their vehicle, run to yours, steal your purse and they will be gone.”

Police were still investigating, Jensen said. “We want to reassure the community that we take these issues very seriously.”

Police are investigating a series of front seat bag kidnappings in Papatoetoe and Botany.
Police are investigating a series of kidnappings of front seat bags in Papatoetoe and Botany.

Stolen cars are used to commit the crimes, but CCTV from gas stations and dairies has captured video of some of the suspected offenders.

Anyone who recognizes the people in the video should call 105 and quote file number 210502/1803, he said.

Jensen also offered some tips on how to stay safe. “Don’t carry piles of cash on you; when you get in your car, lock your doors. Avoid being a target. Put your purse under your front seat.”

If people find themselves with a thief opening their car door, they have to protect themselves and let the police deal with the criminals.

“Don’t go after the offender. Call 111, get a good description of the offender and let us take care of it,” Jensen said.

Today’s police warning follows the case of a woman who was injured after a man tried to steal her car in a “violent” assault at a New Lynn shopping center he two weeks ago.

Police said the 69-year-old parked her car in the downstairs parking lot of Lynn Mall around 10:30 a.m. when a man assaulted her, took her cell phone and attempted to to steal his car.

The victim retaliated, forcing the assailant to exit the vehicle and attack him a second time.

“A member of the public stopped by to see what was going on that bothered the offender, who quickly fled the scene on foot with the victim’s cell phone,” Senior Detective Sgt. Mike Frost told the time.

The victim had to receive medical treatment for the injuries sustained in the attack.


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