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Canterbury trailer-theft capital

Canterbury is the trailer-theft capital of New Zealand, police figures show.

In the six months to June, 130 trailers were stolen in Canterbury, which is far more than any other part of New Zealand, according to police records.

Trailer thefts  account for almost a third of all vehicle thefts in the region, and Canterbury made up 20 per cent of all trailer thefts in the country.

Elite Trailers managing director Keith Gordon said he thought criminals were making a career out of stealing trailers, and a lot were “inside jobs.”

He said thieves would quickly sell trailers on Facebook and did not care how much they got.

Busy tradespeople “running from pillar to post” were easy targets for criminals because they would forget to secure their trailers, he said.

“They’re not worried about the fact that their trailer’s stolen, they’re more concerned about getting a replacement because they need to get on the road with it.”

Gordon said he heard of about two trailer thefts a week, and they were “just our customers who have got our elite trailers.”

Police did not have the manpower to catch the thieves, he said.

“They’re not very helpful when it comes to that. Even a $3,000 trailer for them is just petty crime. Not the sort of thing they really do a lot about,” he said.

Student Volunteer Army (SVA) logistics officer Thomas Craig said the theft of their trailer in late March was “a nightmare.”

“I went to pick the trailer up so I could gather up all this gear scattered over town. All of a sudden, no trailer; can’t pick the gear up,” he said.

Craig said the trailer was locked with a wheel clamp in its usual spot on the corner of Ilam Road and Homestead Lane, and was visible from the road.

The SVA was lucky Bunnings Warehouse donated a new trailer after seeing the theft reported, he said.

A University of Canterbury spokeswoman said campus security offered the SVA a place to keep their new trailer “to ensure it doesn’t happen again”. But the University had its own trailer stolen from Arts Rd in early February.

An investigation was unable to locate the thief, she said.

Police keep a public database of vehicle thefts and the statistics are updated daily.

Crime volume manager Detective Senior Sergeant Scott Anderson said staff were aware that trailer thefts were a “hot topic.”

He said trailers were “an easy commodity to get rid of as they don’t have VIN numbers,” and victims were making it easier by not securing them properly.

Anderson said one of the only ways police had been able to combat thefts was when a vehicle was stopped. He said that while tradespeople were more of an “easy target,” they were also more easily able to spot their stolen trailer on the road, because of particular differences.

Overall in New Zealand, stolen trailers made up about a fifth of all vehicle thefts.

Saloon and stationwagon thefts combined  make up about half of vehicle thefts nationwide.

Gordon said the most commonly stolen were those used by tradespeople.

“Anecdotally, the tandems are probably the biggest percentage of trailers that are stolen,” he said.

_By Joel Ineson for the Christchurch Mail