Police put the heat on burglars

By ROGER MORONEY

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Hawke's Bay police have put the heat on burglars across the region in the past month which has led to a sharp drop in reported break-ins.

In the past, the number of burglaries had risen at the start of winter as criminals preyed on unlit houses in the late afternoon darkness.

But this year police launched Operation May in Napier and Hastings.

They put pressure on known burglars, making it harder for them to commit crime. More police were sent out on the streets and attention was given to several "hot" locations with high burglary rates.

Eastern District Commander Superintendent Sam Hoyle said the emphasis on preventative policing had paid big dividends.

In May last year, there were 109 house burglaries in Hastings and 31 burglaries of businesses and commercial premises. In the first two weeks of May this year, there had been 30 house burglaries in Hastings and nine commercial burglaries.

Napier had experienced a similar drop in burglary numbers.

Mr Hoyle said a major focus on "preventative policing" was aimed at discouraging burglars from offending.

"Coupled with some intensive work around known offenders in the area, we have been able to stem the flow of burglaries so far this month."

More police had been out on mobile and foot patrols and there had been "invaluable" results from forensic work with DNA and fingerprint matches.

Bail checks on burglary offenders had also been given top priority.

Over one 24-hour period in Napier last week, eight burglars were arrested - their collective offending included burglary, arson, stealing cars and thefts from cars.

The arrest of two burglars - one a well-known local criminal - came about through a call from a member of the public who noticed two people acting suspiciously.

A group of five offenders arrested last week were allegedly responsible for 15 thefts from cars and burglaries. The group operated in Napier and Havelock North.

Another burglar was arrested after a police patrol spotted him walking down a Hastings suburban street carrying a 42-inch plasma television.

Mr Hoyle said there was a definite trend of cross-border offending, with many burglars and criminals operating in Napier, Hastings and Havelock North.

"We know that burglars in particular will be active across the whole region, not just one city. These people are mobile and will not hesitate to try their luck in either city."

Increased public awareness was also paying off - several incidents of suspicious behaviour had been reported over the last few weeks.

May and June were traditionally busy months for burglaries and Mr Hoyle urged the public to report any unusual behaviour that seemed out of place.

"We continue to encourage people to tell police immediately if they see anyone acting strangely or suspiciously, either in their neighbourhood or just out and about."

- Hawkes Bay Today

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