High-vis jackets, lost dogs and imaginary friends are just some of the scams burglars use to target Wanganui homes, police warn.
Senior Sergeant Sue O'Neil says burglars scoping out a site will usually say they are looking for their lost dog or a friend who they thought lived there. .
People should call police when somebody suspicious came to the door.
"Just because they have high-vis jackets on and things like that doesn't mean that they are necessarily workers."
The holiday season is a prime time for burglars trying to enter homes and steal.
Wayne Watson, of Wayne Watson Security, says it pays to make it look like you're home - if you're away - or just running an errand.
Furthermore, if you have an alarm, use it. And if you do get an alarm, have it monitored by the security company because there's a guarantee someone will turn up if the alarm goes off.
He says burglars don't like alarms, because they attract attention.
There were 72 burglaries reported in Wanganui in October, up from 66 for the same time last year.
Nationally, more than 57,000 burglaries were committed during the last financial year, of which fewer than 9000 were resolved by police.
Ms O'Neil said burglaries increase at this time of year due to people going on holiday.
"Juveniles obviously aren't at school, people tend to be in and out a lot more - away from their homes."
To avoid becoming a target, local residents should inform their neighbours about holiday plans, ensure their houses were secure and organise for someone to check on their property regularly.
"If possible, have someone staying in your home."
National prevention manager Superintendent Bruce Bird said some burglars were opportunistic and saw an unsecured window or gate, taking the chance to commit a burglary. But many offenders were put off by houses which were secure and seemed occupied.
For those heading away, getting a neighbour or a friend to turn a light on at night and clear your letterbox would help make the home look lived in.
Those with newspaper subscriptions should cancel them for the duration of their trip.
"If a burglar thinks you're at home, they are less likely to attempt a break-in."
Getting to know your neighbours, installing a burglar alarm and even placing a "Beware of the Dog" sign on your property could also deter burglars.
Don't leave keys hidden in the garden either, as burglars knew all the places to look, Mr Bird said.
Burglars were less likely to steal items that were permanently marked or had their serial numbers recorded because they were harder to sell.
Recording the serial numbers of expensive items on the police community partnership website Operation SNAP also discouraged criminals from taking your property and meant a better chance of catching criminals if they handled or on-sold identifiable goods.
"If you see an unusual vehicle in your street or you see anyone acting suspiciously, don't hesitate to call police," Mr Bird said.
"You could be the difference between your neighbours becoming the victim of a burglary or not."
University of Canterbury criminologist Professor Greg Newbold said a surge in summer crime should be expected between Christmas and New Year's.
There tended to be a spike in burglaries as people went on holiday.
Reported burglaries Wanganui
792 in the year to June 30, 2012 - 129 resolved
183 arrests for burglary in the year to June 30, 2012
791 in the year to June 30, 2011 - 153 resolved
212 arrests for burglary in the year to June 30, 2011
57,351 in the year to June 30, 2012 - 8594 resolved
11,924 arrests for burglary in the year to June 30, 2012