While 22-year-old Carl Jackson was walking to a friend's house in Hamilton East, he was beaten so severely he was left with lasting head injuries, unable to work.
Now Mr Jackson is asking Hamilton's council candidates what they plan to do to make streets safer.
Five east ward candidates say the answer is an increase in police on the beat, something they fear may be a matter for central government.
James Casson, a former police officer, said he had seen the impact of the increase in victims.
"Even a simple act of graffiti outside someone's house on their fence, it's huge to those people. It does actually scare them."
Mr Casson said he would use his contacts in the police to help communications between them and council.
Jamie Strange, who was burgled last year, knows what it's like feeling unsafe in his own home.
The schoolteacher hopes to attack the problem at its roots if elected by getting people off benefits and onto a higher living wage, and encouraging better education.
The people carrying out petty crimes were "actually really young", 14 or 15 years old, and needed "a fresh vision for their life".
He thought it was important to build a sense of community.
Anjum Rahman, who has lived in Hamilton since she was 5, agreed, saying research had shown crime fell when neighbours connected.
"In one of the suburbs in Melbourne the council has a programme where they partner with local businesses and they sponsor people to invite their neighbours for dinner."
Jason Howarth said he was "a big fan of the neighbourhood support network, making sure there are people out there keeping an eye out for everybody."
Current councillor Margaret Forsyth, also a former police officer, agreed with Mr Strange that improved street lighting would help with crime in the suburbs.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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