Paul Miller has spent the past six years working in his role as crime prevention adviser for the Eastern Police District. It was a case of rejoining the world of law and order and 30 years' service in the New Zealand Police CIB, with stints in Wellington, Nelson and Napier.
Roger Moroney caught up with "PJ" and got some valuable low-down about the ways and means of burglars who are traditionally active at this time of the year.
1 Do you believe there is a good old Kiwi "it'll never happen to me" mindset with some people in the community which leads to security complacency?
There is a degree of complacency with many people and that's illustrated most days by the number of crimes committed without any need to force entry into homes, sheds or vehicles. Way too many open windows and unlocked doors.
2 Are there burglars out there who actively roam on foot or car seeking somewhere to strike? Is it the sole livelihood of some crims?
Crime is all about opportunity. The criminals in our communities will be out cruising, whether it's on foot, on a bike, scooter or car, and it's all about looking for an opportunity. The open bathroom window, the unlocked door, the PlayStation in the sleep-out. Burglars operate to sustain a lifestyle - they won't get rich but crime will pay enough to support a drug habit until the next time they are caught. Some would say "crime doesn't pay but the hours are good".
3 Are they clever at it - do some dress well when they doorknock or put on fluoro worker jackets to make out they are arriving at a neighbours house to do some work?
The majority of burglars are not very clever but there are some who may represent themselves as a legitimate caller, a tradesman for instance. Most just duck in and get going again in the shortest possible time. Nothing too sophisticated with the bulk of them - nothing you would base a movie on.
4 What are the top anti-burglary things people can do? Is good lighting a valuable factor?
Signs of someone being at home will deter most would-be burglars. If the house is unoccupied, the presence of a burglar alarm is likely to see that criminal go looking for a softer target. They will look for signs of a home being alarmed and give it a miss. Sensor lights are good deterrents during the dark hours but they do need to be high enough to prevent bulbs being interfered with. Burglars dislike people, alarms and noisy dogs. Lights can be added to that list for those who prefer the cover of darkness.
5 What are the signs something isn't right. Strange car in driveway? What should people do and is it wise or unwise to challenge someone on the property?
Anyone witnessing activity not consistent with the normal scene at a neighbour's place should not hesitate to ring police on 111 - be it strangers skulking up the drive or sniffing around windows and doors - if it causes you concern we want to hear from you straightaway. Let us challenge them.
Prompt reporting of suspicious behaviour is a vital element in police successes in arresting burglars and those who would steal from parked cars.
No one should worry that it might turn out to be something legitimate - we can sort it out and, chances are, if your alarm bells go off then that is good reason to ring immediately. The person knocking on your door looking for a black dog or a fella called John may appear as though butter wouldn't melt, but that door knock, along with the ready reason for being there, is a classic method of operating for the day-time house burglar. Call us.