Good neighbours key to home security

By Brendan Manning

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Trusted neighbours are the best tools to stop burglars, a local crime prevention cop says.

While police didn't necessarily record a spike in burglaries over the summer holidays, it was important for those leaving their homes unoccupied to be extra careful, Napier police crime prevention officer Paul Miller said.

There were 157 burglaries reported in Hawke's Bay in October, down from 291 for the same time last year.

Nationally, more than 57,000 burglaries were committed during the last financial year, of which fewer than 9000 were resolved by police.

The best protection for those heading away was trusted neighbours who could "keep an eye on the place, Mr Miller said.

"If they see anything unusual they should contact police immediately, the best option is having someone living in the house, but if they can't do that then have a family friend or a neighbour who can just check the house occasionally and maybe leave some lights on in the early evening and make the place look as though it is inhabited.

"Park a vehicle up the driveway, washing on the line, that sort of thing.

"They can return the favour when other people are away."

Strangers knocking on the door under a vague pretext should ring alarm bells, Mr Miller said.

People should call police immediately if they had any concerns about suspicious behaviour.

"No one will criticise them for making that call.

"If we know that somebody's in the area and knocking on doors we can send a car out and have a chat to them and see whether they're legitimate and if they're not, then we can ask the hard questions."

National prevention manager Superintendent Bruce Bird said with many people about to head away on Christmas holiday, now was the time to protect your property.

"Keeping your home and your possessions safe can make all the difference between being a victim of a burglary or not."

Mr Bird said a burglar would take any opportunity to get into your home - so don't present them with a chance.

Burglars were opportunistic and saw an unsecured window or gate as a chance to commit a burglary, but were put off by houses which are secure and seem lived in.

Don't leave keys hidden in the garden either, as burglars know all the places to look, Mr Bird said.

Recording the serial numbers of expensive items on the police community partnership website Operation SNAP also discouraged criminals and meant a better chance of catching criminals if they handled or on-sold identifiable goods.

University of Canterbury criminologist Professor Greg Newbold said there was always a rise in property crime in holiday areas such as motor camps, where expensive equipment such as boats, dive gear and fishing gear were left lying around tent sites.

- Hawkes Bay Today

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