Burglars targeted in crackdown by police
Hayden Simpson never thought thieves would break into his flat in broad daylight, rifle through his belongings and steal his mate's television.
But, like thousands of other unsuspecting Cantabrians, the 29-year-old has become a victim of a crime that police say is usually preventable.
Statistics show that about a dozen homes are broken into across Christchurch each day. August is one of the hardest hit months.
Burglary hotspot maps reveal the eastern suburbs are worst affected but Riccarton, which is heavily populated with students, is also targeted.
Police will this week launch a three-week crackdown on burglary with all staff focused on tackling the problem.
At Simpson's home an investigator dusted for fingerprints, but only a glove mark could be found.
It was thought the burglar prised open a window to his flatmate's bedroom, stole a television and a PlayStation and fled through the garage door.
"You just don't think about that sort of thing [happening to you]," Simpson said.
"It's not nice to know that someone has been through your house."
Senior Constable Brian Hopkins attends many burglaries in the city looking for clues to catch the culprits. He is confronted with scenes like the one at Simpson's home almost every day.
Up to 90 per cent of break-ins were preventable, he said.
Simpson planned to meet his landlord to discuss improved security, which would include more robust window latches.
Canterbury district field crime manager, Detective Inspector Virginia Le Bas, said a large number of burglaries would never happen if people took simple steps like locking doors and windows.
It was also important people reported suspicious behaviour.
"It's easy to turn a blind eye, but . . . anyone that's had a burglary [will know] it's an incredible invasion of their privacy and it always has an impact on people," Le Bas said.
There were several thieves in Christchurch "for whom burglary offending appears to be a habitual and well practised behaviour". The majority were looking for quick cash to fuel an addiction - drugs, alcohol or gambling.
Lock all doors and windows. Don't install cat flaps within arm's reach of a door handle. Don't hide your spare key – give it to a neighbour. Keep trees and shrubs trimmed so there is nowhere for a criminal to hide. Lock away tools and ladders because burglars could use them to break into your home. Never leave notes on a door stating you're out. Keep receipts, warranties, valuations and a list of serious numbers in a safe place. Record serial numbers online at www.snap.org.nz