Firearms targeted in rural burglaries

Rural homeowners are being urged to be vigilant following a spate of burglaries targeting firearms from properties across the rural Waikato.

The burglaries, which include five in the last week, are occurring in isolated areas of the eastern and western Waikato around the South Waikato, Aria and Coromandel Peninsula. 

In the most recent burglary of a rural home in Eastern Waikato, it appears the burglars have been disturbed as they attempted to break the safe, said Eastern Waikato Police Prevention Manager and Acting Detective Senior Sergeant Matt Cranshaw. 

"They have left without the firearms; we are still investigating how many people were involved, and what vehicle, so it is still early days yet."

Firearms had been the target of the recent burglaries but there is no evidence the burglaries are linked, said Cranshaw.

"It seems to be very ad-hoc and random. Nothing stands out at the moment to say there is one group or one individual."

In the eastern area alone, there were three reported break-ins at rural properties over the weekend. 

"That included targeting firearms safes. It is definitely a concern [that] firearms have been targeted. At times they are doing the whole job, sometimes they have gone only to the firearms safe."

Cranshaw believes the stolen firearms were legal and registered. 

"It is where they are going to go that is the real concern for us."

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Two burglaries targeting firearms around the Aria area in the space of two days last week was cause for concern, said Detective Sergeant Robbie Hermann, of Te Awamutu Police.

"It appears firearms were the target...there were no signs the doors were open, it was purely firearms."

In one case thieves had used a pick axe, sledge hammer and crow bar in an attempt to break into the steel safe, and damaged the home trying to move it.

"Effort was made to get into the safe but there was a second firearm that had been used and left out and that was taken."

One house had been left insecure and thieves had forced their way into the other one, said Hermann.

Waikato Police District Arms Officer Richard Plas said rural isolated properties are more at risk.

"We find a lot are thefts are from people who store guns in wooden gun cabinets, which are not as effective as keeping thieves out as steel gun cabinets. Wooden gun safes were fine 10 years ago when the price of steel cases was exorbitant but they have come down enormously."

He advises all firearms owners to update their security, inform police if changing address and keep guns, ammunition and bolts in separate locked cases with keys hidden in a safe area. Records, including photos and serial numbers, can be registered on property databases like SNAP.  

Anyone with information about the thefts should contact Hamilton Police on 07 858 6200.

 - Stuff

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