Burglars appear to be using technology to steal from people by adding drones to their arsenal of tools.

As if the use of drones in residential areas hadn't already drawn the ire of locals, a former criminal - once dubbed 'New Zealand's most wanted' - has revealed thieves are now staking out properties by using drones as they sit in vehicles parked nearby.

The revelation comes as police issue warnings to people planning their summer holiday and as Waikato police make fresh arrests after complaints of courier parcels being nicked from the doors of many Hamilton homes.

Former criminal Adrian Pritchard says burglars are now using drones to work out which homes and businesses to target. Photo / File
Former criminal Adrian Pritchard says burglars are now using drones to work out which homes and businesses to target. Photo / File

READ MORE:
Counting Crime: Burglaries in New Zealand - where, when and how
Premium - Burglaries cause 'heartbreak' yet not all break-ins reported
Counting Crime: One in three Kiwis experience burglary

Advertisement

In Horowhenua district, police are already noticing an increase in burglaries.

People don't need a licence to fly a drone in New Zealand.

Rules around where you can fly your drone varies depending on the local council, but Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) rules mean operators need permission from the owners of properties they fly over.

Adrian Pritchard is now married with three children and has been free from crime for 20 years.

However, he was once a prolific burglar and told the Herald criminals were now using drones to monitor homes and businesses.

Drones helped burglars work out ways to get in - and out - of properties and businesses, from the safety of a vehicle parked nearby.

"Today burglars, believe it or not, they've got drones and they sit in their cars down the street and video people's backyards and work out exit plans and how to break into houses," said Pritchard.

"They could be using a drone or they could already know the movements of that street."

Advertisement

He urged people who noticed drones outside their windows or above houses to get details and ring police straight away.

Don't only make it hard for burglars to get in, but make it hard for them to get out by keeping all keys to doors and windows hidden, a former burglar says. Photo / File
Don't only make it hard for burglars to get in, but make it hard for them to get out by keeping all keys to doors and windows hidden, a former burglar says. Photo / File

"Obviously if they come down low enough they can look through your windows but a lot of the drones they hover above just to see if there's ladders or chairs, just some leverage to break into your house.

"That's what burglars are always looking for because they don't want to get hurt themselves, so they're looking for a tool to break in for them."

He said courier drivers needed "waking up" in terms of leaving parcels at a front door, while people who shop online should ask to sign their parcel on delivery.

He said once burglars have broken into a house they would more than likely return.

"If they can get away with burgling your place, there's no doubt they will come back again in another year or two later."

He reminded people not to leave ladders or chairs lying around their backyard or back sheds unlocked, not to draw all curtains because it made it too obvious occupants were away, and to get someone to clear the mailbox and try to leave a car parked on the property.

And the owners of two-storey homes were not exempt from closing all their windows - burglars would find a way in no matter how high the window.

Pritchard reminded people not to leave the rubbish from their fancy new gifts out on the roadside for general collection as it's simply a snapshot of what was on offer inside.

He added that while it was a good idea to deadlock the front door, it was a waste of time if people left the key in it or in plain view on a kitchen bench.

"Hide the key away. You don't want to just stop them breaking in, you want to stop them from getting out ... most likely, if burglars are going to steal a TV they wont take it out the window, they will more than likely take it out of a door."

In New Zealand, drones can be bought for as little as $33 from The Warehouse, but many online retailers will sell them for less.

Criminals have also been active in the Hamilton suburb of Rototuna where thieves have stolen from garages left open or simply run up to the front doors of homes and stolen courier parcels.

Waikato police yesterday arrested two people who will now appear in the Hamilton District Court.

Senior Sergeant Kristine Clark said thieves appeared to have picked up on an overseas trend of stealing courier parcels from outside front doors.

In New Zealand, often thieves would tail courier drivers to see where parcels would eventually be delivered.

Horowhenua police prevention manager Senior Sergeant Beth Purcell urged people to lock all doors and windows and keep valuables - including jewellery, electronics and televisions - out of sight before heading away.

If at home, she reminded people to keep front doors locked if out in the garden and to note down registration plates of suspicious vehicles.

"Keep garden sheds and garages locked when not in use and don't leave garden tools and mowers outside, and keep hedges or plants around doors and windows well-trimmed.

"Don't give the burglar a place to hide."

LOCK AND ALARM

Top tips for keeping your property safe this summer

• Don't leave ladders and chairs lying around
• Don't close all curtains - makes it too obvious you're away
• Get someone to clear your mail
• If possible, leave a car parked on property
• Close all windows, even if two-storey property
• If see a drone, call police
• Ensure back sheds are locked
• Don't leave packaging from Xmas presents out for recycling
• Get courier parcels signed for when delivered