South Auckland hit by most burglaries

ROB KIDD
Last updated 05:00 22/07/2014

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Burglars target South Auckland homes more than any other area of the city, according to police.

The dubious title of most burgled suburb goes to Manurewa, in the heart of the south.

Rounding out the top-four worst suburbs are fellow South Auckland area Papakura, followed by Avondale and Henderson in West Auckland.

Click here to see the statistics

Police have been caught out tampering with South Auckland's burglary statistics, making it look like there were fewer, and five police staff are being investigated for "re-coding" hundreds of burglaries in Counties Manukau between 2009 and 2012.

This makes last year's burglary statistics the only recent ones that are free from being manipulated.

Police exclusively released the figures under the Official Information Act (OIA) - providing a breakdown of burglaries reported to each police station across Auckland.

According to the statistics, of the 17,100 reported burglaries throughout the city, more than 6700 - 39 per cent - were in South Auckland.

Reports to central Auckland police stations accounted for 29 per cent or all burglaries - a little over 4900.

West Auckland, hit this year with several high-profile violent crimes, had just over 20 per cent, or 3400, burglaries.

On the other end of the scale, North Shore residents were the least likely to be burgled, with just over 2000 homes burgled last year, less than 12 per cent of the Auckland total.

Inspector Tony Wakelin, of Counties Manukau police, said it was not the socio-economic make-up of areas that determined burglary rates but "transience".

Streets with established communities tended to be more likely to recognise and report something amiss, he said.

Breaking the figures down station by station, the statistics show more people reported burglary to the Manurewa police station than any other station in Auckland.

Officers there dealt with 1600 burglaries last year - more than four a day.

Three other stations stand out with more than 1000 burglaries reported each:

- Avondale had 1342 burglaries reported.

- Papakura had 1232 burglaries reported.

- Henderson had 1226 burglaries reported.

From there the rate of burglaries falls away - next highest is Balmoral with 885.

As for the station with the least number reported, it's Great Barrier Island, with just six in the whole year.

SOLVING CRIMES

It was not all doom and gloom in the south, however.

With a resolution rate of 12 per cent, Counties Manukau police were second only to their northern colleagues in resolving burglaries.

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The statistics also debunked the theory of urban burglars sneaking into rural homes before disappearing back into the anonymity of the city.

Police in Waiuku and Beachlands, on the outskirts of the Counties region were among the most successful, resolving a quarter of burglaries reported in 2013.

Wakelin said the key was getting buy-in from the public.

"In those sorts of areas, you find cops build great relationships with communities," he said, adding he was sceptical about the myth of burglars travelling to the sticks to target properties.

"A lot of offenders are inherently lazy," he said.

"They're not going to go further than where they live."

But just because burglars were caught it didn't mean stolen goods were always returned.

Inspector Bronwyn Marshall said that if people wanted their high-value items back it was critical they recorded serial numbers.

"If we do a search warrant and seize property believed to be stolen, the only way we can prove it, is if there's some sort of ID on it," she said.

THE BURGLARS

Burglars come in all shapes, sizes and ages and their methods varied wildly, police said.

As such, they would not be drawn on "the typical burglar" and Marshall said the thing burglars most frequently had in common was that they were repeat offenders.

The difficulty came with the range of crimes covered by the term "burglary".

Some offenders snuck into houses, searched only for credit cards and went to great lengths to leave everything undisturbed, while others smashed the door down and turned the place upside down.

Similarly, a ram raid by a group might fall into the same bracket as a crime committed by someone who talked their way into someone's house on false pretences.

Wakelin said the common misconception was that there were two types of burglars - opportunists and organised professionals.

There were also those in-between, he said.

"You've got those who wander the streets just looking for an unsecure house," he said.

A major problem was the re-victimisation of those hit by burglars, with a property statistically most likely to be targeted again in the six weeks after the initial crime.

Wakelin said one of the reasons behind that was the criminal network.

"They're just like you and me - they talk."

HOW TO STOP THEM

1. Keep doors and windows locked

2. Record serial numbers of expensive electronic items

3. Keep valuables out of sight

4. Invest in an alarm or sensor lights

5. Keep hedges and plants around doors and windows well trimmed

6. Keep the house locked when you're in the garden

7. Use a chain on the door and don't open it to strangers

8. Note number plates of suspicious vehicles - burglars often scope potential victims beforehand

9. Register serial numbers on snap.org.nz or write them down

10. Arrange for mail/newspapers to be stopped when on holiday

If you're having trouble seeing the graphics below, click here.

- Stuff

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