A former Havelock North mayor says he and his wife are struggling to feel safe in their home after it was broken into a year ago and that the burglars have "destroyed something very special for us".
They are not alone - burglary victims throughout the region don't feel safe in their homes and are having to pay for expensive alarm systems in a bid to feel secure.
Hawke's Bay Today began a campaign this week to raise awareness of the scourge of burglary and encourage the community to keep our homes safe.
The campaign encouraged pharmacy owner and former mayor Jeff Whittaker to tell us how he went home last August to find his double-glazed front door had been smashed and his house ransacked.
"I run a pharmacy and have run a Post Shop in the past, and there have been lots of break-ins there, which make you feel sick, but when your personal home gets broken into, it's a feeling of absolute revulsion," he said. The thieves took a lot of property from his house, including his wife's jewellery and his car.
Police located the car hidden at the back of a property with $12,000 damage to the motor, with other stolen goods found inside.
An occupant at the house was charged with receiving goods; a charge which carries a penalty of up to seven years in prison.
Mr Whittaker said the offender was given a seven-month sentence and, having already served four months while on remand, was released immediately.
"There is a huge sense of frustration that comes along with it," he said. "These people are invading your home, your castle. I wasn't even advised this guy was coming before the courts. I would have loved to have been there to confront him."
Mr Whittaker said the sentence was "not good enough".
"The police spend countless hours in preparing the case. We have our security shattered in the very place we should feel safe. We lose our property, including irreplaceable jewellery, I lose the use of my car for three months, and this low-life walks away?"
Mr Whittaker prepared a victim-impact statement but had no idea if it was read to the offender.
After the break-in, he and his wife had found it difficult to feel safe in their home.
They have listed the property on the market and say every time they come home there is an awful sense of "have these people been here again?"
"They've destroyed something very special for us." The home's security has been upgraded since the break-in, including stalling a comprehensive alarm system and adding new locks.
Mr Whittaker said he still loved the house but it had taken a long time to start to get over the intrusion.
It's a tale other burglary victims can relate to. Brian, who did not wish to use his real name, had his Hastings home broken into three times in May over six days. The thieves netted a large amount of property, including electronics, clothing, homewares, money and a guitar Brian planned to hand down to his son. After the first occasion ,he thought "surely they won't be back again" only to come home five days later and find his home almost completely cleared out.
Before he had a chance to think about installing an alarm system, the thieves were back the next day.
They took "anything they could get their hands on" including shoes, travel bags, cutlery and Coke cans out of the fridge.
"After the third time, I just thought 'that's it'. I hadn't covered myself properly in the first place and that was quite a learning curve."
The property is now fitted with security cameras and lights with deadlocks on all doors.
"Brian also took advice from police and tidied up bushes and trees on his property to make it more visible from the road.
Despite the upgrades, he still doesn't feel completely comfortable in the house.
"It's the sentimental things that you miss, though. The guitar is exactly the same as one Paul McCartney used to have, I've had it for years and it's quite valuable."
Another local, who had lived in her home more than 30 years without any trouble, said the property was broken into when she went out for about two hours this year.
"They took electronics, a watch and cleared out the deep freeze. They didn't trash the house, which we were really grateful for, but they have left us feeling really victimised.
"It's not the kind of thing you think will happen to you. My husband has been hugely affected, he's incredibly paranoid."
She said since the break-in they had spent up to $3000 upgrading security around their house, including an alarm system and padlocks.