While ram raiders make the news every other day, another delinquent behaviour involving youths in cars is the persistent problem of late night burnouts. I turned up at Hampton Downs one Saturday morning to find a disgraceful mess on the road outside.
There were tyre carcasses everywhere, rubber all over the road, and a mountain of bottles and cans strewn all around the place. That’s a mess that someone else has to clean up. This sort of thing has been happening around this area for years now.
There’s just an absolute lack of respect for other people and they are creating so much anger in communities where this keeps happening. And that’s what really gets me; we keep letting it happen.
A few months ago, there was an incident in Palmerston North where some of the local farmers took it upon themselves to disperse a group of people carrying out this illegal behaviour. They were fed up and the police weren’t doing anything to stop this recurring problem.
But then the media made the locals out to be the criminals. It was disgraceful that the media had decided to side with those who were causing the public nuisance.
They had a bunch of soundbites from those making the mess and causing a nuisance, about how dangerous the situation had become following the actions of the farmers.
How do we let this happen? How do we turn the victims into the criminals, and the ones doing all the damage are portrayed as youths just out having a good time? How is this ever going to stop when we make it so hard for the police to carry out their job?
They have so little power to do anything about it. There’s the odd occasion when they record a few number plates, but they need to catch them in the act.
These people can all be sitting there with smoke still rising off the road, with smouldering tyre carcasses still hanging off their rims, but unless they are moving at that time, with the wheels spinning, the police can’t do anything about it.
We’ve done nothing and let it manifest into this massive problem. When will we actually harden up and do something about it?
People’s property is being damaged, they face big clean up bills but how bad does it have to get before we say enough is enough? While some get their vehicles impounded, it’s not a deterrent as they know they will get them back.
These cars need to be confiscated and either sold off or crushed. What these people are doing is unacceptable. Why should it become someone else’s problem when others choose to do something which is absolutely against the law.
It’s incredibly dangerous, as we saw in the aftermath of recent events on Auckland’s waterfront. How do you not find someone accountable? The police seem to have their hands tied.
They don’t have enough power to be able to do what’s required in this space. It’s just going to get worse.
There are places for people to do burnouts safely; there’s a skid pad at Hampton Downs, just a few hundred metres from all the mess on the road outside.
I’ve had a couple of meetings in the past about creating environments for people to use, and there are pros and cons to the idea. I think it’s time we did it.
Let’s do a trial in a few of the problem areas, see if we can engage with those repeat offenders to get them to do it safely.
And if we provide the space, and people still persist with doing it illegally, then you’ve got the grounds to dish out harsher penalties. But unfortunately, part of the enjoyment, the reason these people keep doing it, is they know it’s a public nuisance.
That’s part of the thrill – seeing if they can get away with it. We know someone will eventually get seriously hurt, maybe one of the perpetrators or maybe an innocent public member.
Someone at a Government level needs to do something about it. Whoever stands up in this election year with a plan to knock some of this stuff on the head would do pretty well.
But I don’t know if anyone has the balls.