Christmas for one Whangarei family has been shattered by thieves who stole presents during a day-time burglary.
Onerahi Community Constable Spence Penney said the alarm was raised by the home owner who returned to find an empty freezer basket in the hallway about 1.40pm on Wednesday.
A police dog and handler were called to the house in Sherwood St but were unable to track the offenders.
The woman realised not only had meat been taken from the freezer, but jewellery, a television and christmas presents were also stolen.
Mr Penney said it appeared they had forced their way into the house through a bathroom window.
The theft comes as Northland police warned neighbours should keep their eyes peeled for strangers lurking with backpacks this summer.
Whangarei Sergeant Stephanie Hudson said people should invest in good quality locks, get neighbours, family or friends to clear mail, install security lights and lock away valuables before going away on holiday.
Other suspicious behaviour to watch out for included strangers coming to the door asking for someone that didn't live there, she said.
"Take note of anyone walking around the street, especially anyone with backpacks.
"Just anyone that doesn't look like they fit in on your street."
There were 206 burglaries reported in Northland in October, down from 233 for the same time last year.
Western Bay of Plenty recorded 150 burglaries in October, and Rotorua 117.
Nationally, more than 57,000 burglaries were committed during the past financial year of which fewer than 9000 were resolved by police.
National prevention manager Superintendent Bruce Bird said with many people about to head away on Christmas holiday, now was the time to protect property.
Getting to know your neighbours better, installing a burglar alarm and even placing a "Beware of the Dog" sign on your property could also deter burglars.
Don't leave keys hidden in the garden either, as burglars know all the places to look.
Recording the serial numbers of expensive items on the police community partnership website Operation SNAP also discouraged criminals from taking your property and meant a better chance of catching criminals if they handled or on-sold identifiable goods.
Set up or join a Neighbourhood Support group
Install deadlocks and get into the habit of always using them
Always lock doors and windows even while in the garden
Keep garden sheds and garages secure and lock away tools and ladders
Trim trees and remove shrubbery which could conceal burglars