Burglary shocks long-term residents

By Roger Moroney

After 17 untroubled years in their home a Taradale couple were left stunned when they became victims of a now traditional mid-year rise in burglaries which has sparked a pro-active response from police who have launched Operation Winter.

The break-in happened in early June - a month which saw 150 burglaries reported in Napier and Hastings, with Hastings hammered with 103.

"It's not a nice feeling knowing someone has been in your house," Terry (he asked his real name not be used) said.

"Since the time we've been here there haven't been any burglaries in this immediate area ... this was quite a shock," he said, adding that ironically he was heavily involved in the Neighbourhood Support programme.

"They've got in quickly, gone through the drawers and grabbed things like jewellery, which they could carry easily and got out again."

He and his wife had gone out about 4pm on the Friday and made sure, as they always did, that the house was locked up.

However, Terry said in hindsight the one thing they neglected to do was leave a light on.

"We do when we go out now."

They arrived home about 10pm and Terry said he sensed something was wrong as the hall door, which was always left open, was shut.

When they got to their bedroom they were greeted by the sight of drawers opened and rummaged through, and items scattered across the floor.

He said the burglars shut the hall door so they could turn the bedroom light on without being spotted.

"They used a screwdriver or something like that to jemmy the bedroom window open - we've got deadlocks on the doors so they've got in and got out through the window."

Among the various items taken was a $400 bangle which also had sentimental value to his wife.

"It's something you never think will happen, but yeah, it can happy to anybody - and to know someone's been through your house is a real pain ... it's not good."

Police who arrived at the scene the following day dusted for fingerprints but said it was clear the intruder, or intruders, had worn gloves.

On the same night letterboxes were damaged in nearby Hinton Rd and the Bellevue Dairy in Gloucester St, about 300m from their home, was also broken into and cigarettes stolen.

Since the burglary Terry has fitted locks to his gates to make access more difficult and is looking at putting in window locks.

Hawke's Bay Police Senior Sergeant Stu Fleming said police would be making a concerted effort over the next two months to put pressure on known burglars and reduce their opportunities to offend.

They also wanted to get the message out that despite cold weather burglars did venture out.

In many cases it was all about lights ... the lack of.

He said as the winter months settled in and the daylight dimmed in the late afternoon, some homes became vulnerable as burglars on the prowl looked for those where there were no lights showing - meaning in most cases occupants were probably still at work.

"Winter months are often a time where people become complacent about burglary and think burglars won't be bothered going out in the cold," Mr Fleming said.

"This is far from true and out stats show there is no drop-off in burglaries at this time."

Figures from last year, and recorded break-ins last month, show they increase.

In Napier there were 61 reported burglaries in May last year which jumped to 71 in June, 78 in July, and 70 in August. In Hastings there were 70 in May, 92 in June, 83 in July and 84 in August.

- Hawkes Bay Today

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