Elderly Rotorua residents are being warned to be vigilant against intruders following a spate of vicious attacks on pensioners.

Age Concern Rotorua manager Hillary Thole said elderly people often remained trusting until they or a loved one were put in a position of danger.

This comes after a case in November when an 87-year-old Hastings woman was dragged into her home and sexually assaulted by a man who accosted her while she checked her letterbox.

Other incidents include:


A 77-year-old Papatoetoe woman who forgot to lock her door and woke to an unknown man sexually assaulting her on November 10. A 39-year-old Manurewa man appeared in Manukau District Court charged in connection with the attack.

A brutal home invasion in Pukekohe on November 8 in which an elderly couple were assaulted and tied up before offenders fled with the couple's cash and jewellery.

An attack on 83-year-old Whangarei pensioner Ronald Liddell who was assaulted by two teenage "trick or treaters" on November 2 when he let the offenders into his home.

A string of Whangarei intruder burglaries predominantly targeting elderly victims while they slept.

The incidents follow a string of attacks on elderly Auckland women in June.

Mrs Thole warned Rotorua elderly not to show a wallet full of money at the supermarket, and to have keys ready when entering their house, "not putting your stuff down and digging in a handbag where somebody could come up behind you".

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A bigger concern in Rotorua was financial abuse of the elderly, but it was difficult to get them to report it as the abuse was often carried out by family members or caregivers, she said.

The attacks have prompted calls from police and politicians for communities to step up and support their elderly residents.

"The elderly in our community is a vulnerable group, just as children are, and they need to be regarded as such," Counties Manukau Detective Inspector Jim Gallagher said.

Police Community Services manager Inspector Glyn Rowland said the decreasing New Zealand crime rate meant a reduced risk of attack on elderly victims.

However, elderly were more at risk of long-term effects from physical, financial and emotional harm as their ability to recover was limited.

Labour MP Ruth Dyson recommended pensioners carry emergency alarms for additional safety.

"We need to stand together to show our elderly that they are respected and supported.

"Neighbours and friends are the support that will make all our citizens feel safe in their own home," she said.