Here come the burglars

Pre-Christmas spike in break-ins

NICOLA BRENNAN-TUPARA
Last updated 05:00 21/11/2012
Burglary
Fairfax NZ

The burglary season has started early in Hamilton.

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Holidaymakers are being warned to lock their windows and doors as burglars start eyeing potential targets.

Christmas is one of the busiest times in the burglars' calendar as homes begin filling with presents and people head out of town.

But the burglary season has started early in Hamilton, with the number of break-ins jumping in October.

And with Waikato battling an almost 20 per cent increase in burglaries in the last financial year, police are pleading with people not to leave themselves prey to opportunistic burglars.

Police were called to an average 60 burglaries a week in Hamilton over last Christmas holiday period, something they are keen to avoid this festive season.

Hamilton city area commander Inspector Greg Nicholls said police were preparing to place staff to patrol Hamilton's "hot zones" over the holiday period.

The staff would normally be sent to cover beach areas such as the Coromandel.

Yesterday they hit the streets of burglary "hot spot" Fairfield to hand out around 600 SelectaDNA kits they hope will deter would-be criminals.

The kits invisibly mark property with a unique synthetic profile that glows bright blue under UV light.

It stays on valuables indefinitely and can now be traced in 26 countries.

Mr Nicholls hoped that the kits would lead to a drop in burglaries in the area, as it had been shown to do in a trial in Auckland.

"[The festive season] creates greater opportunity for burglars because there are many more houses that are vacant."

The warmer weather meant more people left their windows open - making it much easier for people to break in.

Hamilton East was also a prime target for burglars, given its transient residents, such as students.

"The security on the houses isn't as great and when you've got half a dozen students living there, they don't really lock their doors. So that's an issue.

"They always think someone else will do it."

Chiefs coach Dave Rennie joined the police at their launch yesterday to support the SelectaDNA initiative.

The demonstration allowed police to put the gel on both the Investec Super Rugby Trophy and the Ranfurly Shield.

Rennie's house was ransacked in August as he celebrated the Chiefs Super Rugby championship win over the Sharks.

"It was not so much the lost property and the damage [that affected us], but the fact that you know someone has actually been inside your house.

"It really rocked my wife to be honest."

Among the items taken were a set of black pearls Rennie's father gave to his wife shortly before he died.

KEEPING THE BURGLARS OUT

Get someone you trust to keep an eye on your house and collect your mail

Install a light on a timer, so people think you are home

Suspend your newspaper delivery

Put security latches on your windows

Place items of value in a security lock-box

BEST NOT TO TWEET YOUR HOLIDAY MOVEMENTS

If you're planning a summer getaway this Christmas, don't feel the need to go online about it: posting travel plans on Facebook and Twitter can be as dangerous as placing a sign on your front door saying "currently empty".

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Netsafe's Sean Lyons says that though it's great to be able to share your adventures with friends, people need to be sensible.

"If people understand that by saying on Facebook ‘Only two days to go till I'm off on a three-week holiday overseas' . . . they should do that with the knowledge of all the risks that go with that," he said.

"It's about as sensible as putting a sign outside your house saying ‘Currently empty', especially if you have your personal address details linked with that."

People also need to be aware that many computer applications also tagged a person's location - meaning you could alert burglars to the fact you're away simply by posting an Instagram photo of yourself.

While some might argue that they trust their Facebook friends, it was friends of friends they needed to be more concerned about.

- © Fairfax NZ News

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