Counting Crime is a Herald series looking at where and when offending is happening in the community - and who the victims are. Each day we will look at a different category of crime and examine the numbers, meet the people affected the most and reveal the times, days and places you are more likely to fall victim. Today we look at burglaries and how to avoid your home being hit by thieves.

160,982

That is how many Kiwis fell victim to burglars from July 2014 to December 2016.

It's more than the total population of Tauranga.

In fact, it's more than the total population of Tauranga and Whanganui combined.

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Police victimisation figures analysed by Herald data editor Harkanwal Singh for the series Counting Crime revealed some interesting facts about burglaries in New Zealand.

Counting Crime: check out your neighbourhood at Herald Insights here.

The day you are most likely to get burgled, based on police reports where time and day of incident were known, is Saturday followed by Sunday, Friday and Monday.

The most common hours of the day burglars strike are around 2pm - but they appear to hit the most from 11am-4pm.

And, the area with the most burglaries recorded was Counties Manukau, followed closely by Auckland City and Canterbury.

In August last year police announced they would attend every single household burglary in a bid to target the increasing number of home break-ins across the country.

The Herald had earlier revealed in March that 164 burglaries went unsolved each day in the year to December 3 2015 - with a shocking resolution rate of just 9.3 per cent.

After the police policy change the Herald obtained data under the Official Information Act that showed 180 burglaries went unsolved each day in the first half of 2016.

Resolution rates for the crime fell to just 8.2 per cent for the period from January 1 to June 30.

While 36,133 burglaries were reported in that time, just 3216 were solved.

In some areas, no burglaries were solved.

If a burglar wants to get into your home, little will stop them. NZ Herald stock image
If a burglar wants to get into your home, little will stop them. NZ Herald stock image

When the new directive was announced then-Police Minister Judith Collins came out
swinging, saying the policy change showed police "are serious about tackling burglary and also sends a clear message to offenders".

From that day on burglaries became a priority offence - so has anything changed since then?

Acting Assistant Commissioner Sam Hoyle, who oversees each of the 12 police districts,
couldn't say - but assured the public that his staff were still committed to driving down
the number of burglaries.

"We introduced a new policy in August last year around attendance and it's really too early to tell whether that has made any impact, Hoyle said.

"We will look at the details in coming months."

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Charlotte Brebner left her home for less than two hours one day, and was burgled by a team of organised and efficient criminals who crawled through her home on their stomachs to avoid detection.

He said despite the impact being unclear, there were already positives to the change.

"Attendance at all dwelling burglaries is a good thing, it ensures when people are victims of crime, and burglary is an awful crime in terms of invasion of someone's personal space, we do all we can to get whatever is available at the scene in terms of evidence."

Hoyle understood people's frustrations when they felt their case was not moving quickly enough, or at all, but he said police did all they could to hold offenders to account.

"The biggest deterrent to burglars is getting caught," he said.

"There's nothing that our front line staff like more than tapping a burglar on the shoulder.

"We take burglaries incredibly seriously - we know individually and collectively the impact burglary has on people.

"We attend 96 per cent of dwelling burglaries in 48 hours - that's a strong signal in terms of how the government and we see the importance of burglary."

Hoyle said the drivers of burglary were mixed, but generally the same in all suburbs across the country.

"It's a mix of drivers from young people who are doing it as a thrill to those who are driven by addiction to some sort of alcohol, drugs or even gambling.

"Burglary is largely opportunistic. There has been on occasion in our history quite professional groups doing commercial burglaries - but for the majority of burglars, they are opportunists looking for easy pickings."

In terms of what they stole most often?

"Anything they can carry," said Hoyle.

"Cash has always been popular and remains popular; food is common, alcohol is common.

"Anything electronic that is small and disposable they can carry in their pockets, iPods, phones - but that's not to say they won't take your flat screen television, it's just harder to carry that down the street without being noticed."

Statistics are sourced from the Police national data page and are for July 2014 to December 2016 with an outcome of investigation of 30 days.

There are a number of ways to protect your property - both while you're at home and away.

• Always lock up. Burglars often enter through unlocked doors and windows or they take advantage of weak locks

• Install good quality locks and use them. Check that you will be able to escape easily in a fire or other emergency

• Lock the front door if you're in the back garden

• Lock your house if you are having a rest or doing something that needs a lot of concentration, such as studying or sewing

• Lock away tools and ladders because burglars could use them to break in

• Lock garden sheds and your garage if you can

• Sensor lights are an excellent security device because they light up automatically if somebody moves nearby

• Keep trees and shrubs trimmed so they don't provide hiding places for burglars.

• Keep windows secure

• Guard your keys. Don't have personal details on your keys (such as your name, phone number or address)

• Don't leave house keys with your car keys when your car is being serviced

• Don't invite burglars in - never leave notes on a door stating that you are out

• When you go away, make sure your home looks 'lived in'

Before you go away

• Tell your neighbour when and where you're going, cancel mail and newspaper, give your neighbour a contact phone number, put a lamp on a timer, keep curtains open and blinds up, turn telephone ringer sound down, lock all doors, close all windows.

• Ask your neighbour to clear your letterbox, close your curtains at night, use your clothesline occasionally, watch your home, use your driveway occasionally, report any suspicious behaviour.

Identify and mark your valuables

When claiming insurance you must be able to prove you owned any stolen items claimed for.

Burglars are unlikely to steal items that are permanently marked because they're hard to sell.

• Keep receipts, warranties, valuations and a list of serial numbers in a safe place.

• Take photographs or videos of jewellery, art works and other precious things.

• Portable items of high value are the most likely things to be stolen.

• Engrave valuable items with your driver licence number, car registration number or phone number.

If you have engraved your valuable property or recorded the serial numbers of items, Neighbourhood Support can provide you with a warning sticker to put on a window.

The sticker will discourage most criminals from taking your property because they know there is a greater risk of getting caught or traced if they handle and attempt to sell identifiable goods.

Read more stories from the series here:

Counting Crime: NZ's CBDs our most dangerous places
Counting Crime: 'His life has been erased'
Counting Crime: Our country's violence fueled by liquor
Smash and grab victim: 'just don't leave stuff in your car'
Car stolen by brazen thieves as couple slept 5m away
An in-depth look at offending and victims in New Zealand
Thefts from cars - when, why, how and who
Retailers in harm's way
Retail thefts cost country $1.2b
Small business owner more vigilant