Since its inception in 2010, the Whangārei Community Patrol has attended many incidents, including finding and recovering stolen vehicles, ram raids, burglaries and anti-social behaviour.

They now hope to continue their good work with the help of a newly acquired patrol vehicle.

The volunteer-based crime prevention unit is part of the national entity Community Patrols of New Zealand (CPNZ). They operate as the “eyes and ears” to assist police and other agencies build safer communities.

Patrol team leader Adam Young said the purchase of the vehicle was made possible through extensive fundraising efforts.

The vehicle they have been using until now will be donated to another patrol unit in Tūtūkākā.

“This will help us become more visible and hopefully prevent more crime,” Young said.

He explained that the primary role of any patrol volunteer was to observe and report any suspicious incident to law enforcement, leaving any action like arresting any offender to the police.

“Every week we have a briefing with the police. And following our discussions we head out to patrol and report any activity we think is problematic.”

Young shared that once his patrol colleague Dianne Taylor and he had found a stolen car that had been used in a ram raid.

After they relayed the information to police and officers were able to track down and arrest the offenders responsible for robbing and fleeing a local store.

Later the police discovered that the offenders were linked to a burglary from a different store.

Taylor recalled another instance when both of them “cast a net” for robbers who had looted a jewellery shop about two years ago.

“While cops were at the scene we went out of the area because we knew they would potentially try to swap the vehicle for another before fleeing off.

“And we found it straight away and it didn’t take long before the offenders got caught.”

Taylor said that based on protocols when they did attend such situations, they only observed the situation from their vehicle from a distance.

They did not go out to check on the victims as they didn’t want to “contaminate” the scene especially if officers decided to use their sniffer dogs to track down the offenders.

Most recently, their team patrolled local neighbourhoods after Northland lost power on June 20.

“With cops busy doing traffic control. We wanted to make sure that nobody was taking advantage of the situation and attempting burglaries. Fortunately, we didn’t observe any such incidents,” Young said.

Due to the nature of their job, the team leader said that safety was paramount.

He said that his volunteers always had the option of opting out of reporting an incident if they felt unsafe.

His colleague Taylor recalled the time she was assaulted.

“I was out patrolling when I got punched at the back of the head while I was in the car.”

And it was just the other day that their car got bumped from behind by a drunk driver, she said.

Police Liason Officer Sergeant James Calverte said he has been working with the team since 2017 and was impressed by their commitment and passion to make Whangārei a “better and safer place.”

“They are really a valuable resource for us. They are trained observers whose work has a real-world impact on reducing crime, which is awesome.”

Calverte added that they have used the services of the patrol team for several crime prevention and community reassurance operations.

The launch was attended by Whangārei Area Commander Maria Nordstrom and Mayor Vince Cocurullo who commented on the “great work” the volunteers commit to.

Young thanks their local sponsors and hopes more people will join up to volunteer for their team.

Interested people can contact [email protected]

Avneesh Vincent is the crime and emergency services reporter at the Northern Advocate. He was previously at the Gisborne Herald as the arts and environment reporter and is passionate about covering stories that can make a difference. He joined NZME in July 2023.

2024-07-09T17:16:29Z dg43tfdfdgfd