Rotorua Weekender: Staying safe these holidays

By Cherie Taylor


"Lock it or lose it'' and "Don't turn your brain off'' are the messages being given to people heading away on holiday this festive season.

Neighbourhood Support Rotorua co-ordinator Bruce Quedley says people shouldn't welcome burglars into  their home these Christmas holidays by leaving windows open and letters and newspapers piling up in the letterbox while they are away.

"Use your brain and lock everything up. It's not your brain on holiday,'' he says.

He encourages streets to become part of Neighbourhood Support with neighbours becoming the eyes of police, ensuring streets are safe from burglars.

His catchphrase this Christmas is "Don't forget your brain'', in other words think about your security while away from home, whether it be lock your house as tight as a drum or ensure your valuables are locked away and out of sight in the car.

If not your presents could vanish faster than Santa could deliver them down the chimney.

"Don't send your brain on holiday _ be security conscious.''

There are simple ways you can ensure your home doesn't get broken into this festive season, Bruce says.

"Lock it up.''

He warns people to secure their properties, lock equipment away and ensure Christmas trees and presents are not in view to entice burglars.

"Most thieves are opportunist.''

When going out for the day, lock up your car and leave valuables at home or lock them out of sight, Bruce says.

People staying home need to be vigilant as well, locking up the front of the house if they are in the garden or entertaining friends outside out of sight.

"They'll walk in the front door and take whatever they can carry.''

Meanwhile, streets operating Neighbourhood Support groups are more likely not to get burgled than those not on alert, he says.

"It's simple, neighbours talk to neighbours.

"It's about building up trust with your neighbours so they can rely on each other in an emergency. They become your eyes and ears when you aren't there.''

Streets involved with Neighbourhood Support have signs up warning visitors to the street eyes are on them, Bruce says.

Those involved are taught to take identifying details of vehicles and descriptions of strangers and call police, he says.

There are  534 Neighbourhood Support groups operating in Rotorua, keeping a watchful eye on 8227 homes.

Neighbourhood Support works too _ especially in Lynmore's Awatea Terrace where Vivien Cooper is involved.

They get together regularly, have hosted a street garage sale to raise money for a CCTV camera for the street and have held street dinners to get to know each other.

The group has been running for about two years,  reducing crime in the street to just about zero, Vivien says.

"There was a lot of interest so we decided to set up Neighbourhood Support ... people report incidents to me and I keep a record.''

Five burglaries took place in the street two years ago but only one last year, when somebody got through an open door and stole a jewellery box, Vivien says.

"We've only had one event ... only minor stuff now.''

Everyone in the street gets on well. They have had two street parties since the group formed and made $800 at the garage sale for the security camera.

The group is  looking to buy one.

"We have really active neighbours. Our aim is to make the street 100 per cent safe ... we have more eyes in our street now. Everyone knows who should be in the street.  We write down registrations of strange cars in the street and we go and investigate. It's about creating awareness. A community that cares is a good community,'' she says.

If you want to find out more about Neighbourhood Support go to www.nsrotorua.info.

DOS & DON'TS


DO:

Warn neighbours you will be away


Leave contact details in case of an emergency

Cancel mail and newspapers or get someone to pick them up

Secure your property and lock doors

Shut gates (burglars are lazy)

Close windows

Put removable equipment away like barbecues and lawnmowers

DON'T:

Put rubbish bags out days early because you are going away


Close curtains during the day

Leave windows open if you aren't home

Leave Christmas trees and presents in front of windows to tempt thieves

Leave animals home alone

Leave lights on unless on a timer

 

- Rotorua Daily Post

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