Empty houses are a magnet for crime
LAUREN PRIESTLEY AND KARINA ABADIA
Living among empty state houses has Glen Innes residents feeling vulnerable and they say it's causing a rise in property crime.
The state house removals began last year with the Northern Glen Innes Redevelopment Project, the first stage of which was on Castledine Cr, Apirana Ave and Eastview Rd.
Housing New Zealand (HNZ) says work on those sites will begin by the end of the month.
The failed burglary on August 5 in which a puppy was killed happened just around the corner on Torrington Cr.
Glen Innes resident Betty Kanuta says properties near her home have sat empty for the last year and add to the stress caused by recent benefit decreases and job losses for residents.
She believes the rise in property crime is a combination of offenders who live nearby reacting to the situation and outsiders attracted to the empty houses.
"People are saying there's crime because of the empty homes - of course there is.
"The empty houses are not the only factor but they have a lot to do with it."
HNZ spokeswoman Cassandra Rivers says the organisation is aware of the situation and residents' safety is a priority. HNZ is extending its Glen Innes business security patrol to Castledine Cr and Torrington Cr.
Safety Net founder Bernie Hall says the feeling in Glen Innes is quite different these days. "The vacant houses means people squatting and ransacking what they can. It has spread insecurity which breeds resentment which turns into crime."
Glen Innes resident Sue Henry says the house removals have attracted loiterers.
"As more houses go, more people are becoming isolated. They're targets and they're on edge."
Senior Sergeant Graeme Porter says police have been taking extra measures to combat the increase in property crime in Glen Innes for some time. Since the Torrington Cr incident there has been a significant reduction in property crime, he says.
"It's important for us not only to catch these offenders but also to make the community feel safe. Quite rightly people felt frightened so it's our job is to provide reassurance."
He believes the offenders are not outsiders but youths from the area. The inquiry is ongoing and Glen Innes CIB is working to identify further property offenders.
A sod-turning ceremony marking the first phase of construction in the Northern Glen Innes Redevelopment Project was held yesterday (Aug 15).
Work on the sites will begin by the end of August and construction will start shortly after.
The first houses are expected to be complete by Christmas.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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