Targeted area to test safety tips

KATHRYN KING
Last updated 12:00 12/02/2013

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Roslyn residents will be the first to benefit from new police and Safety Advisory Board moves aimed at bringing down burglary rates in the suburb.

According to police statistics, Palmerston North has the fourth highest burglary rate per capita in New Zealand.

Senior Sergeant Brett Calkin said police data from the past five years showed that Palmerston North City averaged 1100 burglaries a year.

Of those, about 130 took place within a small area in the suburb of Roslyn, bounded by Tremaine Ave, Vogel St, Main St and Ruahine St.

Mr Calkin said the Safety Advisory Board joined with police to create a booklet about burglary prevention, providing tips and suggestions on how to make homes less attractive to burglars.

"Burglars are lazy. If your house looks like a ‘hard' target they won't bother trying to break in," the book reads.

An invisible ink pen comes with the 35-page booklet, and the advice is that people use it to write their driver's licence number or the initials and date of birth of their eldest child somewhere inconspicuous on their valuables.

All police officers carried black lights that would pick up anything written in the ink and the marks could be used to identify stolen property, Mr Calkin said.

The booklet and invisible ink pens, imported from China, cost about $3600 combined. They were funded through the Safety Advisory Board, which in turn receives funding from the Ministry of Justice.

Palmerston North police area commander and Safety Advisory Board chairman Inspector Pat Handcock said the booklet and pen would initially be given to residents in Roslyn who had been burgled, along with a visit and a safety talk from a police officer.

The area had a high "near repeat" offending rate, meaning burglars didn't usually return to the same house they had burgled, but turned to the neighbouring homes instead.

In light of this, when a home was burgled, the neighbours would also receive a visit from an officer and a booklet.

Students, who tended to be less security conscious and have multiples of items like laptops in their homes, would also be receiving booklets in the next few weeks.

Mr Handcock said that in the next six months or so, they would look at how the booklet was being received, and assess its effectiveness.

If the results were good, they would "really push it".

Police were looking at a similar venture across the Central District, he said.

Mr Calkin said there were "a lot of myths" about burglaries. One of those was that burglars waited until people had bought new items to come back and steal that too, or that they were "watching" people's homes.

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Neither of those things were common, he said. What was more likely was that an offender who had successfully burgled one house in a neighbourhood would feel more confident in returning to that area because they were not caught last time.

The booklet and pen will be available in community policing stations, or the booklet can be viewed at pncitysupport.com/Crime-Prevention.php.

- Manawatu Standard

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