If you receive an unexpected knock on the door in the middle of the night, don't open your house to the stranger.
That's the advice of police after at least two instances of suspicious late-night doorknocks in the Auckland suburb of Beach Haven.
Two residents have shared their experience of being targeted by a sinister scam involving a woman who knocks on a door in the early morning claiming she needs help as accomplices lurk nearby.
Senior Constable Paul Donaldson, the acting sergeant at Glenfield Station, told the Herald that anyone had the right to knock on someone's door: "It's a common-law right for any citizen to knock on anybody's front door, regardless of the time, unless they have been trespassed from that property."
He advised that "if someone is knocking on your door at that time in the morning and you're not expecting it, try and see, without turning on the lights, who is at the door, without going to the door".
"Speak to them through a side window and say 'what do you want' and qualify their intent."
Donaldson advised anyone believing that a visitor had a genuine need to tell them to wait on the doorstep and call police.
"Don't put yourself at any risk of going out there and getting involved in potentially a scheme that will see you a victim of their ill-intent," he said.
Police recommend people follow this advice to keep their homes secure and suggested remembering these key points:
• Don't open the door to strangers. Install a peephole in your door. If you don't know someone, keep the door closed.
• Have a phone by your bed.
• Arrange with a neighbour to phone or visit you if your curtains are still drawn after a certain time in the morning.
• Never tell someone that you are alone in the house.
• Install a wide-angle door viewer so you can see who is at your door.
• Keep your doors and windows secure and close your curtains at night.
• Invest in good-quality, secure locks.
Mums' fears after suspicious knocks in middle of night
A woman told the Herald about the "scary" moment she opened her door to a woman claiming to be asking for help.
The Beach Haven resident said she received a knock on her front door in the early hours of a June morning and found a woman pleading for help, claiming she had been attacked by four men.
She said the situation was a "bit scary" but decided to investigate.
"I just opened the door halfway and then I said, 'What guys?' and she was mumbling something like 'they attacked me, they attacked me'."
"At that moment I heard voices and looked up at my driveway and I could see people, shadows of people because it was still dark."
The woman was scared, so closed the door and locked it straight away.
"Then I heard her saying 'see, I told you' to the people over there," she told the Herald.
"So I went to my sitting room and pulled the curtain and looked outside and instead of walking out of the driveway I saw her walking from the back of my driveway. So she probably went around the back of my driveway because my kids' rooms are around that side."
The woman spoke to the Herald after another mother-of-three from Beach Haven posted on a Facebook community group yesterday, urging others to look out for a woman who knocked on her door: "4am this morning we had a girl lightly knock three times at our door", she wrote.
"She said 'let me in, I need some help', she was very clearly not distressed. Normally I would but I've seen posts where there's a male waiting outside.
"Be warned, don't let her in. Called police straightaway who have come and are out looking. Not a nice thing to happen when you have three children in the house."
The woman told the Herald she was "just shattered" after the incident and described what happened during the chilling encounter.
"My front door has glass panels, I heard a faint knock after settling bubs, then I heard it again, so went to the other end of the house and there was no one at the front door," she said.
"I pulled the handle down to make sure it was locked, turned around to walk away and she knocked again, I turned back around and she was standing there."
The woman, whose three young children and husband were sleeping in the house, then confronted the visitor.
"I said to her 'what do you want?' She just said 'let me in, I need some help'. I yelled and told her I'm not letting you in, go away or I'll call the cops. She left fast."