A case where a mother armed with a Fijian "skull crusher" had to fight off a home invader, and other crime in a Christchurch suburb, has forced a group to campaign for new CCTV cameras.

Home invasions and other crime in Sumner have prompted the formation of the Safer Sumner group.

Emely van Ras, has become part of the group after she confronted an intruder armed with a knife in her home in the early hours of the morning and forced him to leave.

The woman reveals more about what happened that morning and her immediate thought as to keep her sleeping children safe.


The hairdresser was woken at 3am when she heard her gate squeak, and thought it was her dog.

She got out of bed, put on her dressing gown, and went downstairs and found a man crouching on the floor of the kitchen.

When he stood up, van Ras said: "who the f*** are you?" The man then pulled out a knife.

"I thought about the kids downstairs asleep and started backing towards the bedroom. I knew I had this wooden ornament I'd bought in Fiji, called a skull crusher – it looks a bit like an axe," she told Bay Harbour News.

"It's all I could think about, I just needed to protect myself. I don't know if I would have used it but I wasn't scared – I just took control. I had to, because of the kids," she said of her 12- and 9-year-old who were sleeping.

The intruder followed her into the bedroom.

He kept asking for money, "I want money, didn't you hear me, I said money."

She told him she didn't have any and asked him to please leave. He saw her mobile phone on the bedside table.


"What's that?"

She said it was her phone and she backed around towards it.

She offered him jewellery. "I said please, take my jewellery."

"I don't want that," he said and demanded the phone.

The intruder then said: "Stay here 'til I leave." He then left, closing the bedroom door behind him.

"As soon as I heard the front door, I ran downstairs. He'd left it open behind him – I locked it and called the police.

"The children came in while I was on the phone. That's when it set in – I was shaking and cold. The police were amazing, so supportive.

"They came with dogs. He'd [intruder] parked at No 9 and the dogs picked up his smell at other houses."

Van Ras said the intruder climbed on top of a barbecue and got through an open laundry window.

"I was really strong with him and I think that put him on the back foot. He wasn't expecting strength – nor was he expecting me to be up."

Police told her people have either a fight or flight response.

"I had no idea I'd react like that. Maybe it was just the 'Mama Bear' thing kicking in. It made me realise the police are there for us – but you have to deal with the situation yourself. That was a bit of a shock."

She's thankful neither of her children woke. Her 10-year-old dog is partially deaf and slept through the break-in.

"What really gets to me is they've [children] lost their safe place. Their home is their sanctuary but they slept with me for two weeks afterwards. Now they both sleep in my son's room because my daughter can't sleep alone any more."

The home invasion happened on October 24. A week later police arrested a 31-year-old and charged him with three aggravated burglaries in the Bay Harbour News area.

Police are still investigating a fourth. They have happened in Mt Pleasant, Redcliffs, Sumner and Scarborough.

The home invasions and other crime in the area have prompted the formation of the Safer Sumner group, which is fundraising to buy two CCTV security cameras for the area.

Group member Kath Preston said residents had been concerned for a number of years that property-related crime in the area was on the rise.

Preston said footage would only be viewed by police and security staff when a crime had been reported and it would be automatically erased every 30 days.

Police Tactical Crime Unit Senior Constable Nigel Barton said there had been a "spike" in property-related crime in the area from mid-September through to early November, including the four aggravated burglaries.

A Givealittle page launched last week has so far raised just over $1000 for the $4000-plus CCTV cameras.

Sumner resident and group member Matt Wood from security company October Protection has offered to provide the cameras at cost and install them free.

The 31-year-old charged with the aggravated robberies will next appear in court in February. He has been remanded in custody.

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- Star.Kiwi