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 three we map a burglary investigation and look how it only takes seconds to steal a person’s possessions.

BURGLARY SERIES - OVERVIEW

A Remuera burglary victim had to go out to a Manukau petrol station to get CCTV footage of the burglar, after police told him it was the victim's job to get that evidence.

Tim Mason, 26, was frustrated that police sent only a fingerprinting officer and no sworn officers to investigate after the house he shares with his mother was ransacked on a Saturday night last August.

"My PlayStation was missing, all my computer stuff, a 42-inch TV from Mum's room, all the drawers had been gone through," he said. He called police when he got home on the Sunday morning, then realised a few days later the burglar had also taken an eftpos card.

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"I called the bank and got details of all the transactions on the card, with dates and times," he said. One transaction was buying petrol at a Z station in Manukau and Mr Mason realised that the station might have CCTV footage.

"The police told me that I would have to go and get the footage," he said.

He rang the petrol station, but the manager was reluctant to give it to him. So Mr Mason rang the Z head office in Wellington, which told the local manager to provide it.

Mr Mason, a sound and lighting technician, drove 16km out to the petrol station and was given a single still shot from the CCTV footage - "a clear picture of the guy standing at the counter".

READ MORE:
Property crime far from being open-and-shut case
Eagle-eye view of burglaries
Why thieves prey on their own communities

He asked if there was any more footage outside which might show a car number plate, and was told that Z would provide the full footage only to police. Mr Mason took the still photo to the Auckland Central police station.

"I got a letter two months later saying the serious investigation unit was looking at the file," he said. He rang again to check on the case a few days ago. "They said nah, they haven't done anything about it, it's just sitting there open in case I ever find some more evidence," he said.

A Police spokeswoman said police would generally collect any available CCTV footage themselves. "However, there may be occasions when the victim is better placed to collect the footage and supply it to us. We are always grateful for this assistance," she said.

She said the officer who visited the house after the burglary was unable to obtain fingerprints.

"As the credit card was used several days after this burglary occurred, there is no guarantee that the person using the card was the [original burglar]," she said. "The images ... have been circulated through the police system and nominations continue to be sought as to his identity."

Family on edge after 4th break-in

Police told a young New Lynn family to get CCTV footage from Auckland Council after they reported the fourth burglary at their house in 18 months.

Engineers Daphne Nguang and Jeng Yong, who have lived in their home for five years with their two children, now aged 5 and 2, said police took fingerprints after the first two burglaries late in 2014, but have not yet visited after the latest break-in on February 22, even though there is a council CCTV camera in a pathway next to the house.

"I was told I have to ring council myself," Ms Nguang said. "I haven't had time to do that yet and I don't know who to contact."

The family's ordeal started in October 2014 when burglars got in through an upstairs toilet window and didn't go downstairs, where they would have set off an alarm.

The second time, just before Christmas that year, they got in through a downstairs kitchen window while Ms Nguang, 37, was out for an hour picking up the children. This time she had left the alarm off and they took a camera, laptop, gold jewellery and the children's Christmas presents.

"I think they were in the house when I got home. I was [getting] the kids out of the car and they slammed the door on their way out," she said.

The third time, they tried the same window again but couldn't get in because the family had fitted locks.

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