Prevention measures during burglary season
The number of burglaries in Southland has surged in recent months and just one in four is solved, police figures show.
As the peak season for house break-ins approaches, police are urging the community to help prevent crimes and catch the crooks.
Southland area commander Inspector Lane Todd said there were 291 burglaries in Southland in the past five months compared to 231 during the corresponding time last year - a 26 per cent increase.
Figures for the entire 2012-13 financial year reveal there were 724 burglary offences in Southland, and just one in four was resolved.
The 25 per cent resolution rate was the highest in the country.
Nationally, just 14.6 per cent of burglaries were solved.
One Invercargill victim said she was devastated by the crime but understood how hard it was for police to catch burglars.
The woman said her lawnmower was stolen and police arrived within an hour, but with no fingerprints or witnesses, the crime remained unsolved.
Despite the recent spike in Southland, the number of burglary offences had been steadily dropping in the past five years, but catching the thieves remained a challenge, Mr Todd said.
"A lot of property is not recovered so police are not able to get good forensic evidence."
Delayed reporting of crimes also hampered police investigations, he said.
Southland area manager prevention Inspector Olaf Jensen said burglary was "one of the more difficult crimes to solve".
To improve resolution rates police need the community's help, he said.
"Burglars only exist because there are people willing to buy stolen goods or turn a blind eye to what is happening."
Burglars were increasingly turning to social media sites to unload their stolen goods, and this was difficult to counter, he said.
Police warned the public to avoid posting their holiday plans on Facebook and other social media sites because burglars were watching for opportunities to strike.
Stopping them before they struck was the focus for police.
Police regularly patrolled areas where burglary rates were higher and were proactive in running information campaigns to remind people of the steps they could take to protect their property, Mr Jensen said.
He urged holidaymakers to secure their property before leaving, and to report suspicious behaviour immediately. Keeping a record of serial numbers on electronic equipment also helped police track stolen items, Mr Jensen said.
Before you go away for the holidays:
tell your neighbour when and where you are going
cancel mail and newspapers
give your neighbour a contact phone number
put household lights on a timer so they come on at certain times
curtains open, blinds up
turn telephone ringer sound down
lock all doors, close all windows
Ask your neighbour to:
clear your letterbox
close your curtains at night
use your clothesline occasionally
watch your home
use your driveway occasionally
report any suspicious behaviour
- The Southland Times
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