Police are concerned about the risk of violent confrontations as brazen burglars turn to home invasions.
Yesterday community Constable Graeme Jarvis said an increase in Horowhenua burglaries since August was continuing, and there were signs burglars had become more daring, entering houses knowing occupants were home.
Most incidents had occurred in Levin, and it appeared the burglars were watching residents through windows and waiting for an opportunity to slip inside to take items.
"Since late February some of the ones happen to be elderly in bed asleep and now it's happening in evenings and they're coming in the front door if [occupants are] in the kitchen, and in the back door if they're in the lounge."
Last week an elderly Levin woman found a stranger in her house and confronted him.
"Fortunately the man backed off and took off; our worry is someone else confronts a burglar and there's an assault," Mr Jarvis said.
On Monday a man at a Cambridge St house investigating noises saw a stranger looking through his windows.
The increase in reported burglaries across Horowhenua includes a rise in thefts of motorcycles, quad bikes and fuel at rural addresses, and break-ins at commercial premises in Levin where cash and small valuable items such as lap tops have been stolen.
Similar burglaries at properties in Shannon, Foxton and Otaki had also been reported.
It was not known if the residential, rural and commercial burglaries were linked, Mr Jarvis said.
No witnesses had yet been able to offer a good description of the burglars, though police believe they are young, and may be operating in a group.
He said in many of the cases, burglars were entering properties through unsecured doors or windows, and urged residents to be vigilant and keep their properties secure.
"Lock up. Even if you're at home. Lock up garages and put tools away, don't present those opportunities."
He said any suspicious activity should be reported to police, or if a burglary is in progress or a prowler is seen on a property, residents should call 111.
- Horowhenua Mail