Protect your home from burglars
Brazen burglars are targeting vacant Invercargill homes while the occupants are on holiday.
Detective Senior Sergeant Mike Bowman, of Invercargill CIB, said at least 12 houses in Invercargill had been burgled in the past three to four days.
"We normally get nine to 12 burglaries in a week."
However, he believed there could be even more houses that have been burgled, and the occupants would find out when they returned from holiday.
The burglars had hit homes predominantly in Hawthorndale and Appleby.
Several of the break-ins were during daylight hours, and some of the homes had been broken into while their occupants were on holiday, Mr Bowman said.
He believed at least two groups of burglars were at work.
The haul included cash, laptops and other easy-to-sell portable items, Mr Bowman said.
A method used by the thieves was to check out a property and when confident no-one was home, they would approach the house and knock on the door.
If the resident were home they would lie about being there and leave. But if no- one were home they gained entry to the house, went through all the drawers and had a good look through the property.
"There has certainly been a rise in burglaries during the past few months and there has been a real focus for Southland police to apprehend these offenders.
"There have been a number of people apprehended but they are not responsible for all of them," Mr Bowman said.
"It is evident there are at least a couple of groups going at the moment in these areas."
He had no doubt friends and associates of the burglars knew who they were.
He urged people with information to come forward and asked the public to ring police immediately if they saw any suspicious activity in their neighbourhoods.
Last month, Southland area commander Inspector Lane Todd said there had been 291 burglaries in Southland in the previous five months compared with 231 during the corresponding period in 2012 - a 26 per cent increase.
Figures for the entire 2012-13 financial year revealed there were 724 burglary offences in Southland, and just one in four was resolved.
However, the 25 per cent resolution rate was the highest in the country.
Nationally, just 14.6 per cent of burglaries were solved.
BEAT THE BURGLAR
Tips to reduce your burglary risk these holidays:
1. Make sure valuables, including televisions and stereos, cannot be seen from the outside of your home.
2. Don't leave presents or groceries on display in your vehicle.
3. Don't advertise the fact your home is unattended, such as leaving messages on your answering machine and on social networking sites.
4. Make it difficult for someone to break into your home – lock your shed and put away your tools.
5. If you're out the back of your house don't leave front windows or doors open.
6. If you're away then ask someone to clear your mail.
7. Let your neighbours know you're going to be away and give them your contact phone number.
8. Be careful when disposing of any telltale packaging from your new Christmas items.
The Southland Times