Police Minister Anne "Trasher" Tolley is talking tough on anti-boy racer laws, but a well-known criminologist has dismissed the first car crushing as "ministerial grandstanding".
After a four-year wait since the new law was introduced by then police minister Judith Collins, which earned her the nickname "Crusher", Ms Tolley on Thursday in Lower Hutt pushed the button to compact the law's first victim.
She said it would send a strong message to boy racers and would be upsetting for them to have their cars destroyed.
The law targeting illegal street racing has seen a nearly 30 percent reduction in offences between 2009 and 2011.
However, Canterbury University criminologist Professor Greg Newbold is scathing of the crushing laws, describing them as "vindictive, malicious, petty and an undignified way of dealing with the problem".
It was "ministerial grandstanding" and using it to look as if the Government was getting tough on crime, he told NZ Newswire.
"I think it discredits the Government and it brings the legal system into disrepute and engenders disrespect for the law."
Crushing a car would not have any effect, and if anything would be more antagonistic towards young drivers, most of who would go on to be productive members of society, he said.
"It would be far better to confiscate it and sell it to another buyer."
Boy racers spent a lot of money on their cars and it would be far more effective to take their licences off them, he said.
He put the drop in offences down to fear of that, rather than car crushing.
The car's owner, reported to be 19-year-old Paraparaumu Beach man Daniel Briant, lost his car under the Sentencing (Vehicle Confiscation) Amendment Act, which requires a car to be seized and destroyed following a third illegal street racing offence.
He has now reached his fourth strike after being found guilty of driving while suspended, sustained loss of traction and dangerous driving, and disqualified from driving for 21 months, and is awaiting sentencing on his fourth offence.
Ms Tolley says there are 116 offenders on two strikes.