A 68-year-old Kaitaia woman whose tiny one-bedroom unit was burgled on Monday night while she slept, was left imagining what might have happened while she waited for the police to arrive on Tuesday afternoon.

"What if they'd donged me? I'd be dead now," she said.

The woman, who did not want to be identified, was far from defeated though. She has no plans to leave her home of two years, even though she and at least some of her neighbours no longer feel safe in their little Puckey Avenue Village cul de sac. She had seen more than one suspicious person immediately outside her unit in the early morning hours - but she was adamant that she would not be preyed upon again.

"I'll be locking every window tonight," she said. "It'll be like Fort Knox here."


The woman was very badly shaken, however. The thief, who had rummaged through drawers in her bedroom, within arm's reach of where she lay sleeping, took the keys to her Honda CRV and drove it away. It was later found crashed at the foot of Greer's Hill, Kaingaroa, and four teenagers were questioned by police.

The burglar had gained entry via the bathroom window, the victim hoping the police would find fingerprints. A scene-of-crime officer examined the unit on Tuesday evening, although she had been told at the police station that she would not be visited as staff were "busy with a homicide".

She was hoping to recover her car, which she needed to keep regular hospital appointments.

"What horrifies me is that this person was in my bedroom while I was sleeping," she added. "Anything could have happened. I would have fought them, but that's when the damage could have been done. They could have killed me."

She had done what she could - she had changed her locks and had told her landlord, the Far North District Council, that she did not feel safe - and she had the support of her neighbours, but was anxious to tell her story to the police.

One neighbour, whose 4WD was stolen from outside his unit on February 4, didn't hold out much hope though. The police had simply told him to inform his insurer.

A later attempt to take the vehicle that replaced the stolen Isuzu was thwarted by a neighbour's small but yappy dog.

He was even less impressed with the lack of police response this time as of Tuesday afternoon. "This was a home invasion. They could have killed her," he said. "I know (the police) are busy, but this isn't good enough. This shouldn't be happening to our old people."