Police concerned at burglary surge

NEIL RATLEY
Last updated 05:00 22/08/2013

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Burglaries in Invercargill have doubled in the past four weeks and some of the brazen thieves are entering people's houses while they are at home, police say.

Southland area manager prevention Inspector Olaf Jensen said the dramatic spike in burglaries had police concerned.

Last week, a man was woken and attacked with a tomahawk-type object in his Ottrey St home and the culprit is yet to be found.

However, Mr Jensen said there was a difference between the aggravated burglary in Ottrey St and other burglaries suggesting there was more than one group of offenders operating in Invercargill.

This month, Southland area commander Inspector Lane Todd said Invercargill police had noticed an increase in activity by members of the Mongrel Mob in recent weeks.

Mr Jensen said at this stage no connection could be made between the rise in burglaries and gang activity but when criminal gangs were active, crime was a part of their activities.

The number of burglaries averaged about six per week in the first half of the year but have doubled in the past four weeks, he said.

Burglars have been active across the city but the hot locations were the suburbs of Glengarry, Avenal, Gladstone, Appleby and Strathern.

No significant arrests had been made and history showed offenders continued their illegal activities until caught, Mr Jensen said.

A specialist investigation unit and patrols were working to tackle the issue.

Apprehension was a focus but there was also a strong strategy on prevention, Mr Jensen said.

Police were conducting area inquiries around houses that had been burgled to ensure neighbours were aware and securing their property.

More than 60 per cent of the burglaries happened at houses where doors and windows were not locked, he said.

"Most crime comes down to opportunity and if those opportunities are removed, a lot of crimes will not happen."

Popular items for burglars included electrical items, laptops, game consoles, and frozen food in freezers.

Invercargill City Council community development manager Mary Napper said 1371 city households were involved in 100 neighbourhood support groups in Invercargill.

When a house was burgled police told the neighbourhood support group and, if its members lived in the area, fliers were put in their letterboxes warning them to keep their garages, houses and cars locked.

If the burgled area did not have a neighbourhood support group the residents were asked if they wanted one, Ms Napper said.

People in neighbourhood support groups looked out for each other, she said.

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- The Southland Times

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