The man damaged six cars but could not start any of them. Photo / 123RF
A car thief spotted trying to steal vehicles turned on two young teenagers by coming at them with a screwdriver, robbing them of their phones and taking photos of them.
On the afternoon of December 12, 2022, Para Cameron, 21, was in the Spotlight car park on Tarewa Rd in Whangārei where he tried to steal cars using a screwdriver.
He smashed the windows of two Mazdas and one Toyota Wish but was unsuccessful in starting them.
A 14-year-old and a 15-year-old noticed what Cameron was doing and when he realised he had been spotted, he came at them with the screwdriver.
After demanding their cell phones, he managed to unlock the phones and began taking photos of the youngsters as they fled in fear.
Cameron followed them along Lower Tarewa Rd before throwing one of the phones off a bridge and unsuccessfully trying to steal another parked Mazda.
Cameron’s trail of vehicle thefts eventually came to an end after he left his fingerprints on the smashed ignitions of two more cars.
Cameron appeared for sentencing before Judge Philip Rzepecky today, and the Whangārei District Court heard although the young victims were not hurt, they were shaken by the experience.
A number of reports were presented in court identifying behavioural issues Cameron had struggled with throughout his life, including a methamphetamine addiction that began when he was just 14 years old.
Judge Rzepecky said despite his issues, Cameron’s fluency in te reo and record of being a hard worker were to be commended.
“You caused significant aggravation to all the people that owned those cars.
“This was opportunist street crime, I assume if you got the car you would have gone joyriding,” Judge Rzepecky said.
“You are fluent in Māori and show you have true potential, you’ve got something to offer there. The string of offending relates to meth and drinking binges and that’s your downfall.
“Despite your record, you are a good worker and have a good work history. The person breaking into cars and standing over young boys is different to the one turning up to work. That’s the person that needs to come out,” Judge Rzepecky encouraged.
Cameron was sentenced to 19 months’ imprisonment on three charges of attempting to take a motor vehicle, one of unlawful interference with a motor vehicle, two of unlawfully getting into a motor vehicle and two of aggravated robbery.
Cameron has already served 13 months in custody.
Shannon Pitman is a Whangārei-based reporter for Open Justice covering courts in the Te Tai Tokerau region. She is of Ngāpuhi/Ngātiwai/Ngāti Pūkenga descent and has worked freelance in digital media for the past five years. She joined NZME in 2023.