Morgan Tait is the NZ Herald's police reporter.

Revealed: Where burglars get away scot-free

This week the Herald will investigate burglaries across the country in the most in-depth series on the subject ever done in New Zealand. Over five days we will examine where burglaries happen, talk to victims, burglars and the police and find out how you can protect your home and business. In part one we look at which areas are the most burgled and ask why so many crimes are unsolved.
At 24 of the country's 300-plus police stations, burglars got away with every one of the crimes recorded in 2015. Photo / iStock
At 24 of the country's 300-plus police stations, burglars got away with every one of the crimes recorded in 2015. Photo / iStock

BURGLARY SERIES - OVERVIEW
• Scroll down to see a graphic breakdown by region

As the average resolution rate for burglaries fell into single figures (9.3 per cent) for the first time, the Herald can reveal some police stations did not solve a single burglary last year.

At 24 of the country's 300-plus police stations, burglars got away with every one of the crimes recorded in 2015.

ARE YOU A VICTIM? OR A BURGLAR? TELL US YOUR BURGLARY STORY

The station that solved the most of its burglaries - Pleasant Pt in South Canterbury - solved half of those reported, followed by Waikouaiti in East Otago (44%), Picton (37.1%) and Waimate (31.8%).

New data released to the Herald showed there were 97,707 burglaries in the 18 months to December 31, a period characterised by a new police recording system.

Police did not provide resolution rates for the whole 18-month period. Broken down by police station jurisdiction, figures showed that some stations did not solve a single one of the crimes.

Russell and Bulls did not solve any of the 32 crimes recorded for those jurisdictions, nor Kurow (30), Te Anau (26) and Nuhaka (22).

Police Association president Greg O'Connor said he believed there was imbalance between the police's prevention and resolution strategies.

He said a stagnant police budget - unchanged since 2010 until it was decreased by 1 per cent last year - exacerbated the problem.

Click here to see how your neighbourhood compares to the rest of NZ

Labour's police spokesman Stuart Nash agreed. He said it was not the fault of police officers that crimes were going unsolved, but that there was not enough funding for them to dedicate resources to getting results.

"These numbers are terrible. They are being asked to do more for less. You've got to give them the resources to solve crimes.

"Burglars aren't getting smarter; there's not a new class of burglars out there who have a PhD in evading cops - what we are seeing here is police just haven't got the resources to do this," Mr Nash said.

Police Minister Judith Collins said that she had no concerns about funding and that there was a shared responsibility for everyone to secure their property.

Acting Assistant Commissioner Superintendent Richard Chambers said prevention was a key focus for police and saw the decline in burglaries numbers in recent years as a credit to that.

READ MORE:
Exclusive: 164 burglaries a day unsolved
Inside New Zealand's most burgled residential area
Explore burglary patterns in your area

However, the new data was not comparable with the old due to a broader definition of the crime category, he said.

Mr Chambers said the rates "will only get better".

"The key thing about 9.3 is it will continue to increase ... as we continue to work on the burglaries that happened last year."

He said forensic evidence would be stored in a database and might result in an offender being caught six months to a year later.

He said the question wasn't whether police had enough resources, but how they were used.

"It's a balancing act between serious violent crimes against people and crimes against property. You only have to look at recent serious crimes to see the challenges."

Overall, the national average resolution rate for burglaries in 2015 was 9.3 per cent - meaning 59,845 of the 65,981 that occurred went unsolved.

When that rate was applied to the 97,707 burglaries that occurred in the 18-month period, 88,620 would have gone unsolved. When broken down by territorial authority, the most burglaries occurred in Auckland with 34,555, followed by Christchurch and Hamilton, which had 8824 and 5232 respectively.

Wellington was number seven with 2402 burglaries, following Rotorua, Whangarei and Hastings district.

Young thieves cause grief

Tip Nikora has been burgled several times. Photo / Northern Advocate
Tip Nikora has been burgled several times. Photo / Northern Advocate

Tip Nikora says burglars who stole a prized guitar will never know the distress and hassle they caused.

The musician and tour bus driver from Kaikohe said it was particularly unfair that his hometown was targeted, often by underage offenders who faced few consequences.

"People don't have much here, and they get hammered," he said.

His home has been burgled a few times, most recently when a laptop and a guitar were taken last year. The guitar was made by a friend for Mr Nikora's 50th birthday.

The friend died a few months before the break-in so Mr Nikora lost a memento as well as a prized instrument.

His family have been targeted by thieves too. Last October his wife, Patsy, had just finished a nightshift as a St John volunteer when she realised her car had been stolen. It was left in a field across the road with items including a video camera taken from the boot.

Mr Nikora said many thefts in Kaikohe were carried out by youths. They had little idea of the stress and inconvenience they caused, their parents seemed uninterested, and the courts could do little if the offenders were under 17.

Much of the offending occurred in the school holidays, he said.

- Northern Advocate

Hard memory to shake

Janet Peters is still affected by a burglary years ago. Photo / NZME
Janet Peters is still affected by a burglary years ago. Photo / NZME

Janet Peters was burgled several years ago but still thinks about it daily.

The Bay of Plenty woman was living by herself in an apartment when she was targeted.

The building was being painted and she believes the burglar was one of the painters.

"Ever since then I feel iffy about tradesmen," she said.

"I would never leave a tradesman at my house alone now.

"I found it incredibly intrusive. I felt quite violated by it. I changed all the locks and windows. It's an invasion of your privacy."

Ms Peters helped set up a Neighbourhood Support group when she moved to Mt Maunganui and said she believed they were good for communities.

- Bay of Plenty Times

"When I sleep, I'm really scared"

Jamie Constable, Clare Manley and Bailie Elbers are more cautious about home security after items were stolen from their flat last week. Photo / Christine O'Connor
Jamie Constable, Clare Manley and Bailie Elbers are more cautious about home security after items were stolen from their flat last week. Photo / Christine O'Connor

Student Bailie Elbers started locking her bedroom door at night after her flat was broken into nine days ago.

The University of Otago student's Dunedin home was burgled early on Saturday, February 27 and items including a 42-inch TV stolen.

"When I sleep, I'm really scared. So I lock my door 'cause it's quite scary knowing that someone could just walk in."

Housemate Jamie Constable saw a man leaving the property about 5am but thought it was her flatmate's boyfriend.

Miss Constable said the incident had unnerved her and her five flatmates and forced them to be more cautious.

"We were here the night they came in and they still managed to come in."Another housemate, Clare Manley, said if no-one was in the lounge everything was locked.

"It's just an awful feeling knowing that people were in here."

- Otago Daily Times










- NZ Herald

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