Morgan Tait is the NZ Herald's police reporter.

Burglary series: He tried to sell my stolen belongings to me

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 four we look at what drives people to commit such crimes and the impacts their activities have on commercial areas.
The effect burglars' actions can have on their victim can be long-lasting. Photo / iStock
The effect burglars' actions can have on their victim can be long-lasting. Photo / iStock

BURGLARY SERIES - OVERVIEW

It was a normal shift at Cash Converters for Sean Curtin - until a customer tried to sell him his own music equipment that had been stolen in a burglary the week before.

It was stolen during one of five burglaries at his father, Pete's, house on the outskirts of Palmerston North.

There were also another three attempted break-ins.

READ MORE: Interview with a burglar - 'I wouldn't be thinking of the victims. I'd feel nothing'

"My son was living with me at the time of that burglary, and all the stuff that was stolen was his electronics and music equipment," said Pete Curtin. "He worked for Cash Converters at the time and they get a list from police for all the stolen property serial numbers.

"This guy just walked in off the street with a piece of music equipment. He thought, 'That looks familiar,' and looked it up and it was his."

Sean tried to stall the man. "The guy tried to grab it back off him, but he couldn't so he just ran and jumped in his car and drove off."

Sean Curtin was working at Cash Converters when a customer tried to sell him belongings stolen from his house. Photo / Supplied
Sean Curtin was working at Cash Converters when a customer tried to sell him belongings stolen from his house. Photo / Supplied

Pete said the incident - and part of the man's number plate - was caught on CCTV and given to the police.

They were never told of the outcome and were not given the equipment back until three months later.

"It's like they are just so snowed under that they don't even have the resources to deal with it," he said.

Helplessness and fear

Dozens of burglaries throughout his life - no matter what security steps were taken - have taken a huge toll on an Auckland man.

Feelings of helplessness and fear have haunted Vincenzo Wilson and his family after repeatedly being victims of the crimes.

"It's the sentiment of things that's irreplaceable, and the sense of invasion to your safe place that defeats you," he said.

"The day you no longer feel safe in your home and community - that is a sad day." Growing up in a Housing New Zealand home in Mt Roskill, Mr Wilson said his parents worked long hours to make ends meet. They were burgled more than 10 times - once nearly everything except their washing machine stolen while they were at a funeral. They started travelling with their possessions to keep them safe, and eventually moved to live in a home with extended family in South Auckland and a 10-year break from the crimes. But then they started again.

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"As grown adults my siblings and I have reverted back to our childhood. All our things go with us, but then our cars don't feel safe - so we don't go out. Our home isn't safe ... so we are never alone in our own home.

"We don't trust our neighbours so we can't and don't ask for help. Police are under-resourced and over-extended - they can't help us.

Psychologist Richard Wheeler said feelings of violation were normal and understandable for victims.

"You can understand that from anyone who has been a victim of a crime, and you can understand how these burglars start offending - but that doesn't justify victimising other people."

- NZ Herald

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