Thieves target student flat areas

19:31, Mar 18 2014
CLEANED OUT: The last night of O-week was spoiled for these students when they came home to a burgled house. Front: Nina Fox. Left to right: Megan Harrigan, Alex Dudley, Emily van Arendonk and Anna Johnston.

Nina Fox and her flatmates had a sweet night out to celebrate the end of O-week but the buzz died fast when they found their flat had been burgled.

When they returned in the wee small hours of Sunday, March 9, and Miss Fox's new car wasn't outside the Hillcrest flat, they realised something was amiss.

Second-year university student Miss Fox had passed her restricted licence test the day before she was robbed, and proudly drove the Toyota Starlet home.

When she saw it wasn't there she was "in total shock . . . I thought it was a joke or something," she said.

But it got worse when the five flatmates went inside the house. The thieves had levered their way in through a kitchen window and "everything was gone".

When Miss Fox realised how much had been taken, she was devastated and "in hysterics".


"My friend had to call the police because I just was not able to talk to anyone about it."

As well as the car, the robbers had made off with laptops, hair straighteners, perfume, clothes and even underwear.

While the lounge was relatively untouched, in the bedrooms drawers were on the ground and clothes scattered everywhere.

Just one of the five flatmates escaped having belongings stolen - Megan Harrigan, who locked her bedroom door.

"Now we use them just constantly, whenever we go out," Miss Fox said.

They're also beefing up security, now using deadbolts and window stays, especially after hearing their neighbours got done over last weekend.

Miss Fox's car was found several days after the burglary - burnt out and at a salvage yard.

And police found no clues when they came to inspect the house, so the girls are left dealing with insurance claims - for those who have cover - and begging, borrowing and sharing laptops for study.

Police noticed a small burglary spike in areas popular for student flats, Hamilton East community sergeant Paul Francis said.

The affected areas included Knighton Rd, Old Farm Rd, Hillcrest Rd and Silverdale Rd - and he encouraged people to contact police if they saw any suspicious behaviour.

"Quite often people will say they've seen something suspicious, something's not right, but they'll leave it to the next day to contact police. We'd like to know immediately so we can attend the area and check that out for ourselves. So if you see something, do something."

He also recommended good locks, keeping valuables like laptops and cellphones out of sight, keeping in touch with neighbours and making sure flats were secure before leaving.

And the free SNAP website also allowed people to register details of valuable items - including electrical items and documents like a passport - so it was harder for criminals to sell them, he said.

To register, visit