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Bay burglary rate soars

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Burglaries in the Western Bay of Plenty have jumped more than 42 per cent over the past 11 months sparking concerns the justice system is too soft on offenders.

Reported burglaries leapt from 1266 between July 2014 and May 2015 to 1800 in the same time period in 2015/16.

Full year figures were not available on the Statistics New Zealand website.

The crimes included unlawful entry with intent and breaking and entering.

Western Bay of Plenty police area commander Inspector Clifford Paxton said the spike in burglaries was down to a combination of factors.

"Part of which is in the way we are coding burglary, where in previous times a bike in an open carport or an item on the front lawn may have been coded as theft, these will now likely be coded as burglary," he said.

Tauranga branch of the Sensible Sentencing Trust spokesman Ken Evans said the increase was "shocking" and the justice system needed to come down harder on burglars.

"Our stance at the Sensible Sentencing Trust is that the sentence fits the crime and should be a serious deterrent to any more crime.

"Make it sensible. Make it work. We will reduce crime that way.

However, a lot of the burglaries that are occurring are not getting what we would call a sensible sentence.

"The fact that we have this huge increase means whatever is going on is not a deterrent."

Mr Evans said burglary victims were often traumatised and offenders needed a punishment that reflected that.

"It's a shocking experience for [victims]. We want a shocking experience for the burglars."

Between July 2014 and May 2015 there were 234 burglary cases where an offender was caught and dealt with compared with 252 in the same period in 2015/16 - an increase of 7 per cent.

Mr Paxton did not respond to questions of why there appeared to be such a difference between the number of burglaries and those dealt with by police.

Unsecured property was the biggest problem, he said.

There also appeared to be a link between organised crime and burglary with property being used in exchange for drugs. Stolen property was often found during drug related operations.

"Our message to the community is to make sure your property is well secured, note down serial numbers and descriptions and call us at the time where offending or suspicious activity is being observed."

A Bay of Plenty Times report earlier this year into burglaries by suburb revealed Papamoa Beach East had 41 burglaries between July 2014 and December 2015, while Omanu had 154, Mount Maunganui north 73, and Central Tauranga 68 burglaries
Neighbourhood Support Papamoa co-ordinator Lorraine Stevens agreed that including thefts as "burglaries" now would inflate numbers but said people had also become complacent and "need to look after themselves and their neighbours".

"If they see something that makes the hairs on the back of the neck stand up, do something about it.

"The amount of times people go to their neighbours after they've been burgled and the neighbours have seen something but not done anything."

Ms Stevens said the website was a great way for people to keep track of their property, "but even if people keep their own list, just so they have their serial numbers, it's a big help should something happen".

Home security checklists:

Before you go out:
• All doors locked
• Garage locked
• All windows shut securely
• Tools and ladders put away securely
• Spare keys with neighbour (not 'hidden')
• Doors clear (no notes on them).

Before you go away:
• Tell your neighbour when and where you're going
• Cancel mail, paper etc
• Give your neighbour a contact phone number
• Put a lamp on a timer
• Curtains open, blinds up
• Turn telephone ringer sound down
• Lock all doors, close all windows.

Ask your neighbour to:
• Clear your letterbox
• Close your curtains at night
• Use your clothesline occasionally
• Watch your home
• Use your driveway occasionally
• Report any suspicious behaviour.

- New Zealand Police

- Bay of Plenty Times

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