Police target repeat victims to cut cycle of crime

By Andrew Koubaridis

If you've already been burgled the chance of criminals striking again rises sharply

Nicola Drayton with Sam, 3, and 6-month-old Charlie on her driveway where their car was stolen. Photo / Richard Robinson
Nicola Drayton with Sam, 3, and 6-month-old Charlie on her driveway where their car was stolen. Photo / Richard Robinson

The victims of burglary are likely to be targeted multiple times unless they take simple measures to stop opportunistic thieves.

Police statistics show that a home is 18 per cent more likely to be a targeted again after being burgled once - and the likelihood of repeat burglaries increases with each crime.

"There are interesting statistics around repeat burglaries and victimisation," said Detective Inspector Dave Lynch, the Counties Manukau district manager of criminal investigations.

"We're looking at putting a lot of our focus into preventing repeat victimisation because we know if we can reduce that, we can reduce crime and it will have a large impact on our overall burglary problem and have fewer victims."

If someone was burgled twice, Mr Lynch said the chances of that person being a victim again rose to 33 per cent.

If a home was broken into four times, that figure hit 50 per cent or more.

Mr Lynch said the reasons behind repeat burglaries were "not rocket science". "If [burglars] get into a premises and they know it's an easy target and if there isn't [security], potentially it's a bit of a sure win in terms of going back there."

Counties Manukau police are focused on those victims and communities where burglaries are rife in a bid to stomp out property crime.

Up to 43 per cent of crime in the region is property-related - a total of 22,188 offences last year.

A key plank in reducing property crime is the Prevention First strategy of "shrinking" the crime triangle - repeat locations, offenders and victims.

"It's fairly evident a small portion of suspects commit a large portion of the crime, and again it's a small percentage of victims involved," said Mr Lynch.

"The same locations feature as well so it's about putting our efforts into those and targeting the small percentage of offenders - particularly youth - while they're young to try and rehabilitate them."

Maps of "hot spot" zones for property crime highlight the Manukau city centre, including the streets around the Westfield shopping centre and Hayman Park. Other popular targets are retail areas in Papatoetoe and Botany Downs.

Mr Lynch said specialised Neighbourhood Policing Teams worked with repeat victims to improve personal security, which mostly involved limiting the opportunities for thieves who spotted valuables through an open door or window and seized their chance.

"For a lot of people who have been burgled the thought of someone in their house is very intrusive and a lot of people justifiably are quite upset about it."

While commercial businesses were targeted, Mr Lynch said thefts from homes were the main source of concern.

The most popular items to steal are expensive electronic goods - televisions, computers, and devices like iPods - that are increasingly portable.

Cash and valuables are also top targets.

The typical profile of a burgled house in Auckland contained younger people, had at least one Maori or Pacific Islander, or had occupants who were financially vulnerable.

Mother furious at car heist

The first moment Nicola Drayton, 35, knew something was wrong was when the babysitter arrived and asked her where she'd parked her car.

The Nissan Bluebird was supposed to be in the driveway of her Pukekohe home. "I filled the car up with petrol - which is the most galling thing - and parked it up at 7pm. Just before 8am my child minder came to pick up my child and she said: 'I didn't think you were home, where is your car?'. And it was gone."

The car, which had been locked, was full of things she needed for her young children. It was her first week back at work after being on maternity leave and she needed to get to East Tamaki.

"It's not like it's just a walk down the road to work," she said.

The car turned up 10 days later in Manurewa but everything inside had been removed - even the coin holder and carpet from the boot.

"There was just minor damage to it ... But they'd taken all the kids' carseats, the pushchair in the back, the baby carrier. They'd actually cleared the car out, all the receipts, the carpet in the back of the boot, the coin thing. They just ripped it out."

Mrs Drayton said it left her feeling "angry for a long time" because she and her husband were left to pay the excess and deal with insurance hassles.

She was pleased to hear police were focusing on the problem and the offenders who preyed on law-abiding citizens.

"I was most angry because it's really inconvenient ... we're struggling as much as everybody else, with two kids, just a normal little family and stuff like that costs you money."

Making life harder for thieves and receivers a Snap, say police

Police are urging home owners to sign up to the Serial Number Action Partnership (Snap).

Snap aims to prevent property crime by making it harder to sell stolen goods in New Zealand.

The website snap.org.nz allows anyone to enter and maintain details of all important possessions or assets. If anything is stolen, you can retrieve your asset list details and forward them to police and your insurance company.

"One of the issues we do have when you do find property we know is stolen is we can never trace the origin of it," said Detective Inspector Dave Lynch.

Once serial numbers were registered on Snap, stickers could be put on items to warn potential burglars that the valuables might be harder to sell.

Mr Lynch said receiving stolen goods was a top priority for Counties Manukau police. "I think at the moment there is still a bit of culture in society where a lot of people wouldn't actually break into their son's school and take a laptop, but would buy one if they were offered one off a mate of a mate that had 'fallen off the back of a truck'. They're still people buying things cheap they probably know or suspect is stolen."

Police were in the middle of a Crimestoppers campaign focusing on receivers of stolen goods. "If it's too good to be true it's probably stolen."

•Sign on to snap.org.nz

•Call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111 or contact your local police station.

- NZ Herald

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