Frustrated by burglaries, a Wellington family took matters into their own hands - designing and installing a hi-tech camera system that captured a bra thief in the act.
The Maloney family can attest to figures published by police yesterday, showing a fall in nationwide crime rates but a 6.9 per cent rise in Wellington city burglaries.
The Maloneys, of Tasman St, Mt Cook, lost jewellery and electronics to burglars about eight months ago and their neighbours were hit twice. Their neighbours then had two more attempted burglaries in February.
When Andrea Maloney's daughter's stereo speakers were nicked, she decided it was enough. "Maybe it's just my generation, but I think these guys are so brazen. They are getting really cheeky."
So her husband, Kevin, designed a CCTV camera system that records unusual movements and sends alerts to the family computer.
"I don't want to scare them off - we installed them on our house because we want to get a good look at their faces, and cameras are great for that," Andrea Maloney said.
A couple of weeks ago, their work paid off. The cameras took good footage of a thief who sneaked on to their property around dawn, and stole a bra from the washing line before stumbling away.
Maloney said it was creepy to think she was asleep in her bedroom only metres away. The undie thief has not yet been caught.
Together, burglary and theft-related offences accounted for half of all crimes reported to police in 2013. Throughout the Wellington district last year - covering the city, Kapiti-Mana, Wairarapa and Hutt Valley - 4434 burglary-related offences were reported - about 12 a day.
The resolution rate remained among the lowest for any type of offence, at 12.4 per cent.
However, area commander Inspector Chris Scahill said the city's dedicated burglary squad worked around the clock to catch burglars. "They are working hard on those offenders and they do get a lot of them. They work especially hard on recovering victims' stolen property and they spend a lot of time with victims."
OVERALL CRIME FALLING
Reported crime is falling nationwide, led by Wellington - where police are celebrating a steep drop in inner-city sexual offences.
Police figures published yesterday show the Wellington district, along with Auckland, recorded New Zealand's largest reduction in reported criminal offences as the country experiences a 29-year crime low.
The numbers also show reported sexual assaults rose by 11.6 per cent nationwide - but Wellington recorded a 21.9 per cent drop, from 128 in 2012 to 100 last year.
Wellington area commander Inspector Chris Scahill said concerns about alcohol-related sexual offending at night along the city's Golden Mile had prompted police to step up their visibility in the entertainment area.
Wellington City Council's "Wolf Pack" campaign, encouraging people to seek safety in numbers, had also been supported by police, he said.
Safety from all types of crime in the central city will be the focus of the soon-to-be-launched metro neighbourhood policing team, which follows a similar concept trialled in Cannons Creek and Naenae.
The new beat would be trod by one sergeant and four constables, who would be specifically tasked with looking after the Wellington CBD, Scahill said.
Police Minister Anne Tolley congratulated police after the statistics showed crime rates steadily falling nationwide.
Crime decreased in nine of the 12 policing districts, and offending per head of population dropped by 5 per cent.
However, the downward curve may echo a global demographic trend as much as good police work.
Ageing populations, economic fluctuations and changes in social attitudes were all at play in falling crime rates, Auckland University statistician Professor Thomas Lumley said.
"It's hard to tell how much of the change is down to population demographics and how much economic change should be taken into account.
"Some sorts of crimes, like burglaries, are going to be more common in a recession."
Whatever the causes, Wellington district commander Superindent Sam Hoyle said the falling crime rates ‘heartened police.
The numbers of reported serious assaults resulting in injury and theft from vehicles had almost halved across the Wellington district after peaks in 2006 and 2007.
On the downside, methamphetamine continued to be a problem.
Although nationwide statistics show a 22.7 per cent drop in reported illicit drug offences, police also recorded a 59 per cent increase in offences related to the importing and exporting of illicit drugs.
BY THE NUMBERS
34,806 – total recorded offences in 2013 across the Wellington district, which covers the city, the Hutt Valley, Porirua, Kapiti-Mana and Wairarapa
9.9 per cent – fewer offences than the previous year
13.4 per cent – the biggest reported drop in crime, in the Kapiti-Mana area
10.3 per cent – the reduction in the Hutt Valley
9.2 per cent – reduction in Wairarapa
7.7 per cent – reduction in Wellington City
2.7 per cent – rise in reported crime in Hawke's Bay, predominantly in violence, burglary and sex offences
- The Dominion Post