Morgan Tait is the NZ Herald's police reporter.

The drastic measures they're taking to stop burglars - but aren't working

Concrete bollards, roller doors and ram guards were not enough to deter burglars from ram-raiding an East Tamaki store - instead they "went straight through the wall".

The shop NZ Motor Factory on Neilpark Drive, East Tamaki, has been burgled 10 times in five years. The last early-morning ram raid was in January, when a truck drove through a wall to get inside.

A truck drove through a wall to get inside NZ Motor Factory in East Tamaki. Photo / Supplied
A truck drove through a wall to get inside NZ Motor Factory in East Tamaki. Photo / Supplied

Nearby, Wayne Smith, of Right Price Motors, installs GPS in the vehicles he is repairing so if they are stolen he can find them again.

It is his latest security protocol, along with taking the wheels and mags off vehicles until they are finished and ready for their owners to drive them away.

These drastic measures are just some of the techniques used by business owners in East Tamaki in a bid to protect themselves from burglaries.

The Herald's recent Hitting Home series revealed New Zealand police logged 97,707 burglaries in the 18 months after a new recording system was introduced on July 1, 2014. Burglars got away with an average of 164 burglaries per day in 2015.

HAVE YOU BEEN BURGLED? TELL US YOUR STORY

And when mapped by "meshblock" - the smallest geographic unit by which government agencies aggregate data, usually about 100 to 120 properties - the data reveals commercial areas are some of the hardest hit.

In the cluster of eight meshblocks that make up the industry-heavy Auckland suburb of East Tamaki, there were more than 250 burglaries, with most concentrated in just three areas.

READ MORE:
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The Herald has spoken to a number of business owners in the area struggling to combat thieves targeting their stores - and they have been open about the lengths they undertake to protect their properties.

About 50 two-wheeled dirt bikes have been stolen from NZ Motor Factory, despite extensive measures to prevent burglaries.

"I have a roller door and bars on all the windows. They drove through the roller door, so I put concrete bollards in front of that with a ram bar in front of that and sensors in front of that which triggers the alarm," said the owner, who wished not to be named.

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"Then they went for another door, so I did all that there too. Then they went straight through the wall. Now I have concrete barriers in front of all the walls. It looks like a jail; it's actually probably more secure than a jail."

Seemingly extreme, those measures were not enough.

"That's not enough, they [burglars] keep coming ... "

Despite taking every possible security measure, he said, his insurance premiums had gone through the roof and he was nearly declined cover.

He believed the offending was gang related, and had gone to police and his local MP for support.

"I think the law really needs to be hardened. At the moment there is no punishment for these young teenagers, they know they can get away with it and the older ones, they only get a small punishment."

Karen Tregowath's store Treetools New Zealand on Kerwyn Ave has security cameras, a monitored alarm, a security dog onsite and barbed wire, but even these precautions don't deter some thieves. The store, which houses expensive, specialist arborist equipment, including cutting tools and safety gear, has been burgled twice.

CCTV of the damage after two ram raids at NZ Motor Factory in East Tamaki, Auckland. Photo / Supplied
CCTV of the damage after two ram raids at NZ Motor Factory in East Tamaki, Auckland. Photo / Supplied

Footage from both burglaries was handed to the police, but the offenders were not caught.

More burglars needed to be caught to deter other criminals, Ms Tregowath said.

"I suppose it [the frequency of burglaries] is because they are getting away with it, which is not uncommon for burglars throughout the world, but here we have two that were caught on camera, both were investigated - but as far as actually catching them ... ?"

Inspector Dave Glossop, of Counties Manukau police, said burglaries were "seasonal", with offenders targeting "craveable" commodities such as warm clothing in the winter and alcohol at the weekends.

Organised crime was seen more with commercial burglaries as people stole to order, and the crimes were concentrated in industrial-type areas.

"East Tamaki is a high industrial complex and you haven't got people living there; it's targeted by environment. The businesses there do a good job with security, but it is always going to be a high-risk area."

Police worked closely with businesses around the country to help with security, prevention and awareness, Mr Glossop said.

Mr Smith's shop on Andromeda Cres has been hit numerous times. "We have had a lot of burglaries, plus all the vehicles that have been stolen because I don't have enough space to park every single one inside," he said.

"[Burglars] climb over the fence at the back as well and we find the cars just sitting on the ground when we get in in the morning.

"They have taken three sets of wheels off one car.

"There are always people out there just looking to steal something. I come from [South Africa], the crime capital of the world, and I have had more thefts here in three years than I ever did there."

Stihl franchise owner Hamish Cook is amazed where chainsaws stolen from his Harris Rd shop end up. "Our last burglary was just over a year ago. They took 10 chainsaws. They got five of them back straight away after the police did a drug bust the next day, then they found four of them in someone's closet in Otara," he said.

"Everyone seems to want chainsaws.Once, the police found a guy with a 12m container full of stolen equipment, and there was chainsaws stolen in the South Island the day before."

A range of security measures had not deterred burglars, Mr Cook said. The tenacity of burglars made the cost of doing business even higher.

- NZ Herald

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