Burglaries linked to lack of jobs
Police are urging Hamilton businesses to tighten security after a surge in commercial burglaries targeting scrap metal and electronics.
Area tactical response manager Inspector Karen Henrikson said the spike in burglaries was commonly linked with people feeding a drug habit, but the struggling economy and job market were also driving people to crime as a means to make money.
Frankton business owner Jay Randhawa was fed up after being targeted by thieves for the seventh time this year.
Yesterday morning, two men broke through the front window of his business, JSR Refrigeration and Air Conditioning, ransacked his office and stole a small amount of property about 1:50am.
The duo – who had their faces hidden – triggered the alarm and were caught on security cameras.
He suspected it was the same men who had taken an estimated $30,000 worth of property over the past two years.
In the past a van, trailers, tools and thousands of dollars worth of scrap metal have been taken from his yard. Two weeks ago a purpose-built trailer emblazoned with the company's logo was taken and used to transport stolen goods.
A four-wheel-drive vehicle, similar to a Mitsubishi Pajero, has been used by the offenders during at least one burglary.
Mr Randhawa said neighbouring businesses had also had vehicles, car stereos, petrol and other goods stolen in recent weeks.
Ms Henrikson said scrap metal theft was a national problem, but there had been a surge in the number of commercial businesses being hit in Hamilton.
"It's an ongoing issue, and particularly around our valuable metal," she said. "Often it's not scrap metal and we shouldn't get confused with that because for some of these places it's their actual machines, or items for sale. It's costing that business a heck of a lot of money." She said commercial properties were often difficult to secure so police have been working with businesses throughout the city to increase security.
Mr Randhawa installed security cameras in November last year and was in the process of building a higher fence.
Police had also been working with scrap metal dealers to make it harder to sell the metal on.
"We have a better liaison now where they will contact us with suspicious activity," Ms Henrikson said.