Anna Leask

Anna Leask is senior police reporter for the New Zealand Herald.

What thieves are after in your home

File photo / APN
File photo / APN

New insurance industry figures have revealed the average cost of an insurance claim after a burglary in New Zealand - $4700.

But the cost is even higher than that in some of our main centres.

Latest claims data from AA Insurance released to the Weekend Herald show the majority of burglary claims between 2009 and 2011 came from Auckland, Hamilton, Wellington and Christchurch.

According to the data, Auckland topped the chart with the highest average burglary claim cost in the country.

The average claim in Auckland between 2009 and 2011 was $5553.94, followed by Hastings, Hamilton, Napier, Wellington and Christchurch.

AA Insurance head of operations Martin Fox said the data did not hold all the answers, but there was a simple reason Auckland had the highest claims cost.

"The one thing I have been looking at is that in Auckland we tend to have higher density dwellings," he said.

"There might be multiple flatting situations and what we're finding is that the cost of items is the same, but in Auckland if someone breaks into a multi-tenanted situation, instead of perhaps taking one laptop there might be two there.

"I think the difference in amounts is more relative to the people density within accommodation more than anything else.

"When thieves get in there there's more stuff there. It's not because people in Auckland are more affluent, it's because very often there might be more people living in that property."

Auckland police spokeswoman Noreen Hegarty said "hot" items for burglars in the city at the moment were generally "small, portable, valuable items"

"With the odd exception. Copper has been targeted for several months now - hardly small items but increasing in value," she said.

"Otherwise, the trends for desirable stolen goods reflect consumer trends - mobile phones, iPods and iPads, laptops, jewellery - particularly gold, GPS systems and sought after clothes labels."

Mr Fox said that trend was reflected across the country.

"It's basically the same stuff. If we look through all our claims from Dunedin to Auckland, the thieves are going for portable and high value equipment.

"If it's light, portable and small, and if there's a market for these things and these people can move them on quickly."

He said thieves were opportunistic and not interested in a difficult steal.

"They're not interested in high-risk, low-value items. They're interested in very low risk situation.

"So during the day when there's no one there, they get in and they look at highly portable stuff so that if they do need to disappear in a hurry then they can do that," he said.

The data also revealed that the most expensive city insurance-wise for car breaks-ins was in Christchurch. The average claim for thefts from vehicles in the Garden City was $2074.76, followed by $1834.08 in Wellington and $1792.79 in Hastings.

Mr Fox said last year's devastating earthquake may have had an impact.

"We would hope that the recent events in Christchurch would have nothing to do with this, but there is no doubt there have been a lot of situations where people have had to carry their valuable property around with them in their car, because it's probably safer than their premises they once occupied.

"The other thing is that for people in bigger cities, car theft is something that happens a lot. So, they take more precautions."

Christchurch Detective Senior Sergeant John Rae was surprised to hear that the average claim in the city after car break ins was the highest in the country.

"We have some thieving little rogues here," he said.

"I would doubt that we're any different from Auckland or Wellington. But we certainly have our fair share."

Mr Rae said the majority of car break ins happened in recreational areas where people left their cars unattended for hours.

Property stolen was the same as in burglaries - electronics, laptops, credit cards and anything else visible to thieves that could be pinched quickly.

"The ideal thing would be not to take that stuff with you. But, that's impractical these days," he said.

"People regard their car as private property, and I agree - it should be. They leave their stuff in there accordingly. But lock it in your boot.

"There are no guarantees in this world that it won't be stolen, but it will make it difficult for thieves to determine what's in the car unless they watch you put it in there."

Prevention tips
* Lock all doors and windows when you leave home or go to bed.
* Install an alarm and intruder lights at home.
* Don't leave tools such as ladders outside the house that will help thieves get in.
* Always lock your car, no matter where you park and even in your garage.
* Keep valuables in your car boot, out of sight and locked away from prying eyes.

- NZ Herald

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