A Whangarei couple are disappointed it took police four days to start investigating a burglary after they were were left traumatised when thieves broke in and looted their house while they slept upstairs.
Liz and Bernard Boutet woke last Monday to find that their spare car, which belonged to her deceased mother, had been loaded with their French wine collection, tools and a compressor and driven away. A Japanese student was also sleeping in an upstairs bedroom and none of them heard the thieves.
After questions were raised by the Northern Advocate, police admitted the job had been missed and a staff member had not been assigned to investigate.
Whangarei and Kaipara area commander Inspector Justin Rogers said as soon as he was made aware of the burglary, staff had been sent out to speak to the couple.
"We should have attended before now ... we missed it. I totally accept they would be upset to think this was happening while they were asleep," Mr Rogers said.
"We will provide them with assurance and see if there is anything else we can do for them."
Mrs Boutet, 64, rang Whangarei police station at 7am last Monday to report the burglary and was then referred to the crime reporting line (CRL) where all the details were recorded.
"I reiterated we were sleeping in the house at the time," Mrs Boutet said.
She was told an officer and forensics would contact them. They were hopeful officers would come to their home to fingerprint and offer some reassurance. Scared of another break-in, they had had the locks changed.
"I felt so unsafe and violated. This happened inside while we were sleeping. I started to feel really upset about it when I really started thinking about what happened and what possibly could have happened," Mrs Boutet said.
"I'm really frightened that they could come back."
She was offered help through Victim Support when reporting the crime to CRL but had declined. Her husband found alternative transport to work for two days because they thought fingerprints could be taken from his work van which was also broken into. When police had not arrived by Wednesday, he decided to drive the van. Meanwhile, Mrs Boutet tried to get some police action.
She rang Whangarei police station on Monday night and left a message on the forensics officer's cellphone. On Tuesday, she rang and was told there was a lack of resources and on Wednesday when she called she was told she was 24th on the list.
"I just want the police to show some acknowledgement and make me feel like they actually do care about the incident," she said.
News came yesterday just after 1pm from a constable who had found the blue 1990 Honda Domani burned out at Wairau Falls, near Titoki.
Mr Rogers said as burglary jobs were typed into the system by staff on the CRL in Auckland it appeared in the system, which could be accessed by Whangarei staff. Every day, a staff member would go through the occurrences that had been entered and would refer the appropriate cases to the specialist forensic officers. They would then contact the victims and establish if there was still forensic evidence to be collected. They would then prioritise their jobs.
In this case, the job had not been forwarded on to the forensic officer. He said normally the Onerahi community constables would also have been informed but last week one had been on holiday and the other was sick.