The Oamaru youth scene has not changed since 2010, when 16-year-old William Lewis was stabbed, and youths carrying knives continues to be a rarity, Oamaru police Senior Sergeant Jason McCoy says.
Daniel Ethan Smith, 20, was sentenced to five years and nine months’ imprisonment at the Timaru High Court last Friday, for the manslaughter of Lewis four years ago.
Smith was found guilty of manslaughter, not murder, during a retrial held in July, after stabbing Lewis three times in the back on Exe St at about 9.45pm on April 1, 2010.
Senior Sergeant McCoy said police had always had problems with small pockets of youths at night committing “opportunistic” crime but finding youths with knives was a rarity back then and still was now.
“Many of the issues are opportunistic crime.
“We’re generally not seeing any youths carrying knives.”
Oamaru police had been having problems with a group of youths recently who had been interfering with unlocked cars and committing wilful damage type offences, he said.
“It’s just another group of youths that have come to [our] notice.”
There were generally small groups of particular youths who committed a large percentage of the youth related crimes in the area, Senior Sergeant McCoy said.
“We are actively patrolling at risk areas within the community.”
If youths were found in at risk areas, they would be taken home and often the police would talk to their parents, he said.
Senior Sergeant McCoy said he wanted to stress that anyone who saw suspicious behaviour, whether it involved youths or not, should call the police as soon as they saw it happen rather than the next day, as delays made investigations more difficult.
People should also not leave their properties or vehicles unlocked so there was less opportunity for these crimes to be committed, he said.