Big rise in burglaries keep police on 'high alert'

Last updated 12:00 19/02/2014

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A massive hike in burglaries in Horowhenua has police on high alert and warning of "absolute zero tolerance" for offenders.

It's a sentiment resonating in Palmerston North, where a concerning trend in night-time burglaries is emerging.

Levin Detective Sergeant Sarn Paroli said police noticed a rise in burglaries over August and September last year, and the number had continued to remain high, about 50 per cent up on average compared to the same period the previous year.

At its peak, Horowhenua, which includes Otaki, Levin, Foxton and Shannon, could have up to 16 burglaries in a week, and 80 per cent of those would be in Levin, he said.

While the majority of burglaries had been of homes during the day, recently burglars had been making the most of insecure windows at night and sneaking around while occupants were asleep, he said.

Thieves were hitting homes all over town, and there didn't appear to be any particular pattern to the offences. Items taken were generally portable, high value items - electronics, cash and jewellery.

Mr Paroli said police had made some arrests and seen a steady decrease in the number of burglaries in recent weeks, from 11 a week, to eight to four, but it was too soon to call it a trend.

Police were cracking down on burglars and had "absolute zero tolerance" for offenders, he said.

Anyone who saw someone suspicious, and thought they may have committed a burglary should call 111, he said.

In Palmerston North, acting Inspector Brett Calkin said there had been similar problems with burglars making the most of the warm summer nights.

There were four burglaries in the first two weeks of February where the thief had gained access to the house through an insecure window or door. The burglaries all happened at night, when occupants in the houses were sleeping.

They'd taken place in Ashhurst, Milson, Awapuni and Hokowhitu.

All but one of the break-ins was through an insecure window.

The circumstances were unusual because only about 30 per cent of burglaries in Palmerston North were done at night, but they did tend to swing toward night-time in summer, when the weather was warmer, he said.

Items taken, as with Levin, included laptops, cellphones and handbags.

Mr Calkin said they had noticed a trend in people leaving their windows open on security stays, but cautioned against even that.

They could be easily forced with a crowbar, in a short time, with little noise.

If windows were to be left open, they needed to be inaccessible from the outside, or if they were left on security stays, the gap needed to be so small a crowbar wouldn't fit into it.

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"People just need to be sensible, just choose carefully what windows they leave open, think about it from a burglar's point of view, as to whether or not they would get in that window."

Residents in neighbourhoods that hadn't been hit shouldn't be complacent, because theirs could be next, he said.

He asked people to stay vigilant, and report any suspicious behaviour or vehicles.

- Manawatu Standard

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