A Havelock North widow is appealing for the safe return of a pendant stolen from her home during a spate of recent burglaries targeting jewellery.
The woman, who wished to remain anonymous, lost her husband four years ago and had the pendant made from the couple's wedding rings.
"They've taken away a part of him," the woman said. "It's very special to me and my family, I can't just replace that piece." The "extremely significant" pendant also featured the stones from her engagement ring. She said the wedding bands were more than 40 years old.
The pensioner's home was broken into on the night on May 25, while she was out. Burglars prized open a window and took only her jewellery.
A spokesperson for the Hastings Intel Section of the police said three other burglaries involving jewellery took place during the same weekend, beginning May 24.
"There were substantial amounts of jewellery taken. These people were targeting jewellery specifically and walked straight past electronics to find it."
She said the piece was easily distinguishable. "It's irreplaceable and very special to the family."
Jewellery could be on-sold in many different ways, including to gold buyers and second-hand dealers, she said.
The Hastings Intel Section said they had an unusually busy May with burglaries, with Havelock North being a particular target. Police were about to launch Operation Winter, targeted at reducing burglaries which typically increased in the colder months.
"It's easier to see if people aren't home in winter. We see a huge increase in burglaries and will be targeting this with more staff and a lot of attention."
"The best way to combat this sort of thing is if people see suspicious vehicles in their neighbourhoods just to contact us, take registration details, if it looks suspicious it probably is."
She said keeping an eye on neighbours was key. A Neighbourhood Watch group was being set up in Havelock North, spearheaded by Community Constable Julie Goodall.
Mrs Goodall said the groups were a great way to encourage crime prevention and were helpful for both the public and police.
"Watch groups help us as much as they help the people in the neighbourhood. People provide a lot of information to us.
"It's just about being aware of who is in the street, knowing when your neighbours are away, clearing the mail, that sort of thing."
Statistics released in April showed burglaries dropped in the year ending March 2013 in Hawke's Bay.
There were 2695 offences involving burglary and breaking and entering in the year to March 2012 and only 2181 offences in the 2012/13 period. It was the biggest drop in crime recorded in the region. Thefts fell from 4575 last year, down to 4352 this year.
The Hastings Intel Section said burglaries were typically spread evenly across the Bay and an increase in staff on patrol had helped to keep them under control.
"We are working to identify burglars coming out of prison, we're working smarter than we have done in the past. With Operation Winter coming up we will be putting a real emphasis on burglars."