Homes overwhelmingly top of burglars' hit list

By John Cousins


Three-quarters of all break-ins in Tauranga now involve burglars targeting homes.

Latest statistics show burglars are now proportionately more active in residential areas than 15 years ago when house break-ins made up only half of all burglaries.

The trend towards homes and away from businesses and public buildings has gained momentum since the mid-1990s.

Western Bay's police area commander, Inspector Clifford Paxton, said there was now a significant number of opportunist burglaries from insecure premises, with cash, small electronic items and other easily removable goods being targeted.

The Bay of Plenty Times analysed Western Bay of Plenty crime statistics which showed the number of house burglaries had remained reasonably constant over much of the past 18 years, except for a downward blip in the early 2000s.

Last year was another blip in the right direction, when house break-ins dropped to 1200 - a big reduction on the average 1350 burglaries during the previous six years.

The drop in burglaries was accompanied by a drop in the police clearance rate.

Nearly 20 per cent of the 1200 burglaries were cleared off the files, below the 24 per cent average clearance rate for the previous five years. But even 20 per cent looked good compared to the mid to late 1990s when police were solving only 8-10 per cent of home burglaries. The clearance rate improved in the new millennium to a range of 20-25 per cent.

The worst year for burglaries over the last 18 years was the 2546 burglaries committed in 1994. The best was last year's 1545, of which 1200 were houses - 77 per cent. The number of burglaries dropped below 2000 a year in 2002.

Mr Paxton said winter traditionally had a higher burglary rate than other seasons, although in recent times the winter pattern had continued for longer. Burglaries were not necessarily more prevalent in school holidays and at Christmas, although there tended to be higher-profile incidents during these times.

Tips to combat burglars

Ensure doors and windows are locked.

Store valuables out of sight.

Make sure your letterbox is cleared if you are on holiday.

Have someone keep an eye on your house.

Neighbours should call the police if they see someone acting suspiciously.

Watch for door knocking that appears to be out of place.

- Bay of Plenty Times

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