Burglars hit inner city even in daylight

NEIL RATLEY
Last updated 05:00 11/11/2013

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Businesses in Invercargill's central city and its industrial area have been hit by burglars.

A spike in burglaries in the inner city has police on the hunt for a group, or possibly several groups, of thieves.

Between mid-September and last Monday 15 premises have been burgled. Southland area manager for prevention Inspector Olaf Jensen said offenders were hitting shops both during business hours and at night.

There were reports of business employees "finding people in their smoko areas", Mr Jensen said.

Police did not have any positive lines on possible suspects, he said.

The spike in inner-city burglaries comes after police said they had stemmed the tide of suburban burglaries that plagued Invercargill a few months ago.

The number of burglaries averaged about six a week in the first half of the year but doubled in August, with Glengarry, Avenal, Gladstone, Appleby and Strathern popular with burglars.

Police had caught several offenders in relation to the house burglaries and subsequently the number of burglaries had dropped, Mr Jensen said.

In August, burglars hit the Southland Tavern and Newfield Tavern.

They entered the Southland Tavern by forcing doors open and stole a self-service machine off the wall of the TAB room but it did not have money in it.

Alarms at the Newfield Tavern scared off the burglars before they gained entry.

It was not possible to comment on whether there was a connection between the suburban burglaries and those being committed in the inner-city, Mr Jensen said.

The method of operation appeared to be different which might indicate a different group, he said. "It could be youths or a more organised group."

The crimes were often opportunistic and as a result of unsecured premises but police had also found evidence of break-ins.

The burglars were after cash along with disposable goods, Mr Jensen said.

Businesses needed to make sure their security was up to scratch by locking doors and windows at night, and reporting suspicious activity to police.

Mr Jensen said that because of privacy concerns he could not identify which businesses had been burgled.

Cars were also being broken into at Stead St car park at the New River Estuary while people were using the walkway, Mr Jensen said.

It was important valuables and cash were not left visible in cars to tempt thieves, he said.

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- The Southland Times

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