"Creepy" and "suspicious" behaviour has prompted a police warning to tradies, who are being targeted while they sleep.

Western Bay of Plenty area prevention manager Acting Inspector Phil Gillbanks said there had been a concerning increase in the number of tradies being targeted by thieves, particularly in the Papamoa area.

Thieves were often targeting tradies' work vehicles parked either on the street or in their driveways at night while they slept.

Gillbanks said there was more opportunity at this time of year for criminals due to the longer nights. Tools of choice were the more expensive and heavy duty items like nail-guns, he said.

"We're talking about high-end building power tools," Gillbanks said.

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"It is concerning, particularly as tradies' tools affects people's lives. A tradie can't go to work if he doesn't have his tools. That affects so many people. It's also concerning how many people must be willing to turn a blind eye, because these tools have to be going somewhere."

Gillbanks said utility trucks, particularly with canopies, and vans seemed to be the most targeted vehicles and thieves appeared to be "highly mobile" in getting about.

"We are certainly doing our best to try to locate the people that are involved and we also have to seek the help of the community that, if they do hear or see of anything suspicious, or are offered a deal too good to refuse, to let us know."

Gillbanks' comments come as Tauranga resident Michelle Nuku raised her concerns about suspicious behaviour after spotting a person coming on to her property, taking photos, and then leaving.

"What made me concerned is that they are doing it when families are home ... [it's] concerning knowing they may or will be back."

Nuku said the behaviour was "creepy" and "suspicious".

She said she noticed people parking outside her house and only moving because another car pulled up, "but doesn't stop them they actually doing a U-turn and running across the road to get the picture and then speeding off".

Nuku reported the incident to the police but wanted to warn others of the suspicious activity. She said she knew of other similar incidents in the Ōtūmoetai and Bellevue areas.

Police were not aware of a trend in specific properties being targeted by people taking photographs.

Tips to keep safe

- Draw curtains early
- Turn lights on early, or have them on a timer
- Set your vehicle and home up with an alarm
- Don't leave valuable tools in your vehicle overnight, especially in the tray of a utility vehicle
Source - New Zealand Police