"They don't rob you of your equipment; they rob you of your trust and peace of mind."

That's the view of Te Puke farmer and orchardist Steve Bailey, who was unnerved by a burglary at his property in May.

He is not alone in that experience. Burglary and theft is an ongoing problem in the largely rural Western Bay of Plenty district, according to police statistics.

Burglary reports have generally trended up since July 2014, though not as steeply as in the more urban Tauranga City.

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In those 33 months, 1438 burglaries were reported in the district.

In three-quarters of burglary reports, the victim could not pinpoint the exact time and day the break-in happened.

That was the case for Mr Bailey, who believes his back shed was broken into while he was away at a funeral on the weekend of May 13.

He was surprised by some of the things they took: a radio repeater, solar panels, cattle scales, a tool kit, fuel and more.

"It left me a bit unnerved. I've got more cameras and I've changed my locks."

Mr Bailey's family have worked the property since 1963.

He believed the "rules" of country life had changed in recent years, forcing people to be more security conscious.

"I guess it's the new normal, compared to the days when the community used to be a bit more trusting.

"Urban crime is happening in the country now."

Te Puke farmer Steve Bailey was burgled in May. Photo/George Novak
Te Puke farmer Steve Bailey was burgled in May. Photo/George Novak

Western Bay of Plenty Police acting area commander Inspector Zane Smith said opportunist thieves looked for easy targets - unlocked or unsecured property.

"Just because your property is behind some trees, it doesn't make it secure.

"Any items of value - from machinery to tools and stock - could be a target and often aren't hidden from sight."

Enhanced security, such as locked gates or fences, and clear signage could help to deter opportunistic thefts, he said.

Rural property owners should check their boundaries and sheds at least weekly,

The earlier the police were notified, the more forensic evidence they could find, he said.

Federated Farmers board member Rick Powdrell, of Te Puke, said rural theft was an "ongoing problem" in the Western Bay of Plenty.

"These guys are quite brazen. They will steal a quad bike from in front of the cowshed while you're milking."

He said every property was different, and each owner needed to assess what security measures were practical for their set-up.

"If you're going to get cameras, make sure you get good ones - there is nothing more frustrating than having bad photos."

Communication between neighbours about suspicious activity and quick reports to police had helped solve many crimes, Mr Powdrell said.

"If you see things that look suspicious, don't be afraid to report them. Often reports of suspicious activity can help police paint a bigger picture."


Rural theft prevention checklist

Tips provided by Inspector Zane Smith and Federated Farmers board member Rick Powdrell.

·Check boundaries and fence lines often
·Take keys out of vehicles
·Shut road gates
·Lock buildings and sheds
·Follow proper procedures for shutting away firearms
·Get good cameras
·Talk to neighbours often and discuss anything unusual
·Do due diligence on new staff
·Check stock numbers once a week and clearly tag animals


Most-hit rural areas

These Western Bay of Plenty areas had the most burglary reports from July 2014 to March 2017.

·Te Puke East (150)
·Katikati (138)
·Te Puke West (134)
·Pongakawa (133)
·Kaimai (114)
·Rangiuru (113)
·Waihi Beach (108)
·Minden (93)
·Te Puna (66)

-Source policedata.nz