New data reveals Rotorua's most common time of day to be burgled - and which of the city's suburbs are more likely to be targeted. Caroline Fleming reports.
Sunday afternoon and early evening is the most common time for burglars to strike in Rotorua, new figures show.
And Western Heights, Mangakakahi, Owhata and the Rotorua CBD are the most popular suburbs burglars target.
Police data spanning the past five years showed Sunday between 1pm and 10pm was when the highest number of burglaries were reported in Rotorua.
Monday, Friday and Saturday also ranked highly, but Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday were significantly lower.
The data covered both commercial and residential properties and showed that 2016 and 2019 saw the largest spike in break-ins in the city.
A burglary was defined as an unauthorised entry with intent to commit a crime.
Bay of Plenty police intelligence collections co-ordinator Sergeant Chris McLeod said it was difficult to pinpoint the worst days and times for burglaries because the victims often weren't sure when they exactly happened.
However, he said weekends were often busier as people went to the beach, sports events or leisure activities after working all week only to come home and find their homes had been broken into.
He said the same could be said for during the week when people were at work.
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McLeod said most burglars were unemployed and often went out looking for properties to burgle when their benefit money ran out. In the past, when benefits were all paid on the same day, it was obvious when their benefits ran out as crime often increased.
But with staggered payments, that's not so much the case now, he said.
Neighbourhood Support coordinator and administrator Bruce Quedley said the weekends had always been the most common time for burglaries because it was the time most people were "out socialising".
He said the times presented may indicate the time of reporting as Saturday night or Sunday morning burglaries may only be discovered in the afternoon or evening.
The most common suburbs for burglaries since 2015 were Western Heights, Mangakakahi, Owhata and the Rotorua CBD, Neighbourhood Support figures showed.
The Rotorua CBD had been the hardest hit this year, it said.
"No matter what time of day - people have to be aware," Quedley said.
He said burglars were "opportunists" and people needed to "close off all easy options" when it came to entry.
Unlocked doors and unlatched windows were the most common points of entry, he said.
Over lockdown, burglaries cooled right off as people remained in their houses, he said.
"Criminals seemed to obey the law in this case... they won't often do it if someone is home."
Watchdog Security Group Rotorua chief executive Brett Wilson, who had been in the profession for 25 years, said Sundays had always been the worst day for commercial burglaries.
This was because industrial and commercial spaces were a lot quieter with fewer people around, he said.
Commercial camera detection systems had "changed the job" of security as once an alarm was activated, his team could log in and see a live feed of what was happening, he said.
This allowed them to notify police while it was happening and catch the people red-handed, he said.
Call-outs had slowed to virtually nothing over lockdown but he said the number of burglaries was starting to rise again.
His company had noticed a rise in ram raid-type burglaries, he said, and was gearing up for an increase once the wage subsidy stopped.
Victim Support researcher Dr Petrina Hargrave said the impact of burglaries "cannot be underestimated" as it was a "traumatic experience with long-lasting emotional and financial consequences".
The service dealt with more than 2000 burglary victims a year, she said.
Hargrave said burglaries often came with a feeling of being "violated" in a place where a person should feel safe.
"There's an extra element of trauma if you're at home when the burglary occurs because there's an intruder in your house and you don't know what their intentions are.
"You don't know if they are armed, under the influence of drugs or alcohol, or if you should confront them. Victims may be frightened for a long time afterwards, have trouble sleeping and concentrating, and may be jumpy at any sound or wary of strangers."
She said for many victims, burglary can be a "tipping point" and others "never recoup the costs of burglary".
HOW TO KEEP YOUR HOME PROTECTED:
- Always lock your car, motorbike, bicycle or other vehicles. A car alarm, steering lock, or good quality chains are extra deterrents too. Ideally keep all vehicles in a garage or out of sight.
- When out and about, keep your belongings secure and close to you. Separate your house and car keys, especially if you have an address on the key ring.
- Don't provide places for burglars to hide - keep bushes and trees trimmed.
- Don't answer the door for someone you don't know or don't want in your home. Ask for identification if they say they represent a company. If you're outside for an extended time, eg, in the garden, lock your front door.
- Keep valuables out of sight - If it can be seen, it can be a target. Keep receipts, warranties, valuations and serial numbers in a safe place. Take photos or videos of jewellery, art and other precious items.
- Secure your doors, windows, sheds and garages with good quality locks. Install security stays on windows, especially those on ground level.
Source: NZ Police