South Auckland police are putting a new crime-fighting tool in the hands of locals.
Under Operation Safe as Houses that begins today in Valient St in Mangere, hundreds of forensic marking tools - dubbed SelectaDNA - will be distributed to homes in and around the area.
Residents are encouraged to use the tools to mark household items such as televisions and computers. The markings, which can only be seen under ultraviolet light, can be used to trace the owners of goods that are stolen and recovered.
Counties Manukau west area commander Jason Hewett said the programme would help people in a community that had been hit hard by theft over the past few years.
"I started in May last year as the commander in this area. There were high volumes of property crime - theft and burglaries - and the area had just under 2400 burglaries by that time last year."
Burglaries in the area had dropped 21 per cent this year and programmes such as these were helping, Mr Hewett said.
"We want our people to be safe and to feel safe. If there's one place a person should feel safe, it's their home. And that's what we want to ensure."
The programme had already helped residents just up the road from Valient St - in and around Viscount St. Up to 230 homes there had received a SelectaDNA marking tool and safety tips from police officers. There had been fewer than 10 burglaries reported in the area this year, down from 23 last year.
Mr Hewett said this year police officers would team up with members of the Fire Service, who would install fire alarms and offer fire safety tips to residents.
"While we're there, we give advice about ... keeping safe from fire, from crime, from everything."