Fewer than one in 10 burglary cases in Auckland are being solved.

Police bosses have pledged to improve that statistic -- but say they cannot throw resources at minor cases such as garden gnomes being nicked.

Last year, the percentage of unlawful entry with intent cases in Auckland that were successfully resolved by police was just 7.2 per cent.

In Waitemata, 8 per cent of cases resulted in arrest, and in Counties Manukau the percentage was 9.9 per cent.


While the Auckland region had the lowest burglary resolution rates, other areas didn't fare much better. Northland's rate was 11.9 per cent in 2014/15, Waikato 11.5 per cent, Bay of Plenty 17.5 per cent, and Wellington 11.9 per cent.

Police Commissioner Mike Bush was grilled about those numbers during an appearance before Parliament's law and order select committee.

Labour MP Phil Goff -- who is also running for Auckland mayor -- said resolution rates had declined over the past four years and were now in single figures in the Auckland region.

"That means if you are a crook you get a 90 per cent chance of getting away with it. At estimates last year the Minister [former police minister Michael Woodhouse] was here and he said to you, 'I need an improvement'.

"I really want to know, what has now changed to try and turn around what is really a deplorable level of crime resolution for things like car theft and burglary."

Mr Bush said police officers in all districts were focused on improving the burglary resolution rates -- but it was also important to realise that the number of break-ins was coming down.

"The first priority is that burglaries reduce. And if you look at dwelling burglaries -- where someone does actually break into your house, the number of those burglaries continues to decrease. But we would like to resolve more of those burglaries."

Resolution rates for unlawful entry with intent have declined in the Auckland region since 2011/12, but police said a change in measurement meant 2014/15 results were not comparable.

Mr Bush said one issue with looking at burglary resolution rates was that the definition of what constituted that crime was broad.

"If you now have your gnome stolen from your front lawn, that is classed as a burglary. And that is not something that we will pursue with a team of investigators.

"We are actually catching people who break into houses ... but the definition used around these rates is very, very wide. I'm not going to debate the point because I would also like to see the resolution rates, in terms of burglary, increase. And I have asked that that be a focus of all the districts."

Mr Bush said he was pleased that resolution rates of crime against a person had increased recently. In response, Mr Goff said that feedback from his constituents in Mt Roskill meant he did not agree that part of the issue was the definition of burglary.

"With all due respect to the gnome example ... that's not what my constituents report to me -- they ring up angry because their house has been done over, their personal possessions ransacked. And they know that the crooks that did it will get away with it.

"I've heard the explanation that the focus is now on crime prevention, but surely the best way of preventing burglary is to catch the so-and-sos that actually time and again are knocking off the houses in my electorate and other places across Auckland."

Green Party police spokesman David Clendon told the Herald that resolution rates that were in single figures were of concern. He acknowledged that there was some difficulty in accurately measuring how many crimes were solved.

"One individual might commit 100 offences, and when he is eventually arrested only 10 of them are acknowledged as to being to [him]. But I think to maintain public confidence those resolution rates need to be improved. Burglary, car theft -- these are the offences that actually hit people literally where they live."

Burglaries - How many solved?

Successful finalisation rate of unlawful entry with intent investigations by district in 2014/15:

Northland: 11.9 per cent

Waitemata: 8 per cent

Auckland: 7.2 per cent

Counties Manukau: 9.9 per cent

Waikato: 11.5 per cent

Bay of Plenty: 17.5 per cent

Eastern: 15.3 per cent

Central: 14 per cent

Wellington: 11.9 per cent

Tasman: 18.5 per cent

Canterbury: 11.9 per cent

Southern: 16.4 per cent

Source: Police answers to written questions from Parliament's Law and Order Committee.

Rates also provided between 2011/12 to 2013/14, however police say changes mean those statistics cannot be compared to 2014/15.